James O'Connor confirms England switch
October 23, 2013
James O'Connor is on the verge of a switch to London Irish © Getty Images
Exiled Wallaby James O'Connor has confirmed he will be moving to England on a short-term deal.
ESPNscrum understands O'Connor is in discussions with London Irish and a move is expected to be completed in the coming days. O'Connor's options in Super Rugby have almost disappeared after he was dumped by the national side following repeated off-field ill-discipline and few clubs seemed interested in taking him on. His only real option seemed a return to the Western Force but even that appeared unlikely after he made the headlines for the wrong reasons.
O'Connor's decision to pursue a switch to England sees him exclude himself from Wallabies selection next year as players have to play a full domestic season in one of the five Australian franchises to put them in the Test mix. O'Connor is likely to be playing in England until the end of the Aviva Premiership season so that would rule him out of contention for the Wallabies.
And despite claiming he is keen to sign a long-term contract with the Force and is adamant he still wants to run out for the Wallabies, O'Connor will journey to England and is expected to sign for London Irish.
"An area of my game I have been criticised for is my game management, controlling the game from No.10 or No.15, it is one thing people have said that I need to improve," O'Connor told Australia's Telegraph. "I spoke to clubs from Japan, France, but for me the best way forward is a short-term deal in England.
"I played the British & Irish Lions at the start of the year and I realised that it was a completely different way to play rugby. England and Wales play a very high-pressured, territory based game. I thoroughly believe I will improve my game by being in those surroundings and playing in their conditions, and get a better understanding of how they play."
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Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.