Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

O'Connor 'set to decide on future'

James O'Connor is poised to reveal where he has chosen to play his club rugby.

London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith expects James O'Connor to make a decision on his future in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Controversial Australia back O'Connor has been strongly linked with a short-term deal to play in the Aviva Premiership with Irish after having his contract with the Australian Rugby Union terminated this month.

The 23-year-old, who can play at centre, wing, full-back or fly-half, was escorted from Perth airport for drunken behaviour and has since attracted interest from several European clubs.

If O'Connor did join Irish it would a high-profile coup for Smith, who said he expects to find out the decision of the former Melbourne Rebels player in the coming days.

"He's a world-class player, he's a terrific kid and I'm sure that will all be unveiled at the front end of this week," Smith said.

"Any team in England or in France would be lucky to have him.

"I would imagine in the next 24 or 48 hours he will play his cards and all will be revealed."

O'Connor announced he had taken the option of looking to play in the northern hemisphere in a bid to get back into Ewen McKenzie's Wallabies squad.

He said in a statement last week: "I have decided that I will be moving overseas next month as part of a short-term playing contract.

"I am in final discussions with several clubs and will announce the new partnership in coming days.

"I believe the move, for a few months, will be beneficial for me to develop in a different environment and help me to be the best rugby player and person that I can be.

"It will also ensure that I continue playing professional rugby immediately and not wait until early in the new year to resume competition.

"I want to give myself every opportunity to get back into the Wallabies side and to represent Australia in the 2015 Rugby World Cup."

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