Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

O'Connor out of Wallabies squad

Australia's James O'Connor (right) breaks through the challenges to score his side's first try of the game

Australia back James O'Connor has been stood down from the Wallabies squad ahead of Rugby Championship games against South Africa and Argentina.

It follows an alleged incident at Perth Airport last weekend when 23-year-old O'Connor was reportedly prevented from boarding a flight to Bali in the early hours of the morning.

Reports described O'Connor as being "intoxicated". He was understood to have been escorted from the terminal building by police.

And Australia coach Ewen McKenzie has now responded by replacing O'Connor in his 28-man squad with New South Wales Waratahs wing Peter Betham.

"James O'Connor has been stood down for failing to demonstrate and uphold the behavioural and cultural standards expected within the team," read a post on the Qantas Wallabies official Twitter account.

"We won't be forced into making any decisions around his return until I'm satisfied that he can once again contribute positively to what we are trying to achieve as a group," McKenzie said on www.espn.co.uk

"The reality is that representing your country is the ultimate honour, but also a week-to-week proposition.

"To be selected, players must consistently do the right things on and off the field. We will continue to assess James on that basis before any team decisions are made about a return.

"My views and expectations around team culture and behaviours, along with those of his team-mates, are extremely clear, and it's important for the Wallabies and rugby in general to be spoken about positively for the right reasons.

"James and I had a long conversation around those expectations before the tournament (Rugby Championship) commenced.

"As a result, and separate to the outcomes of the current investigation, James will not be joining us in Sydney tomorrow. We must put the team first without any distractions hindering them during a really tough two-game tour."

O'Connor must now be rated a major doubt for Australia's autumn tour, which starts against England at Twickenham on November 2.

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