Once the golden boy of Australian rugby; 44 caps by the age of 23, coupled with 223 points for the Wallabies put James O’Connor at the forefront of an exciting Australian side coming to fruition.
However, without a cap since 2013 and off the field controversies have marred what looked like to be a very promising career for the utility back. A downward spiral that began in Perth, Australia, following O’Connor being banned from a flight with the Wallabies side, and escorted from the airport after being intoxicated.
O’Connor’s issues stretched back to being pictured in a kebab shop at 4am in the build-up to a British and Irish Lions test in 2013, as well as missing Wallabies first team meetings; regularly disciplined, causing O’Connor to be in the papers for the wrong reasons all too often.
It appeared that the Wallaby has turned a leaf with his initial stint in England, playing for Premiership side, London Irish. He clocked 100 points in just 15 appearances, as he prepared to return to Super Rugby for Queensland Reds in an attempt to make his way back into the Australian side.
With the utility back’s failed attempt to be selected by Michael Cheika, he was signed by Toulon and experienced further difficulties off-field for the French Top 14 side.
O’Connor was charged with former All Black, Ali Williams, for an attempt on purchasing cocaine; both of the players were arrested, and spent a night behind bars.
The former Wallaby international received a ‘bad boy’ reputation in France, and failed to convince the European powerhouse to extend his contract. As a result, O’Connor has now been signed by Premiership side, Sale Sharks, in an attempt to reinvigorate his career.
At just 26, and with clear quality, as shown in his younger years, O’Connor still has time on his side to perhaps make a bid to revive his international career.
With the 2019 World Cup not that long away, the utility back will be hoping for more headlines on the field in England, rather than making the papers for his continual off-field antics.