James O’Connor Has Found Himself A New Club Following Sale Departure
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James O’Connor has found himself a new club, after it was announced that the former Sale Sharks man has signed a deal with Rugby Australia and former club the Queensland Reds.
The move ignites his chances of a stunning Rugby World Cup return with Australia after an extended absence from Test rugby. O’Connor has already been training with the Wallabies – and could very well play in this year’s Rugby Championship.
The 29-year-old boasts 44 Test caps and has scored 223 international points after he made his Australian debut in 2008 as the second-youngest debutant in Wallabies history at 18 years and 126 days.
O’Connor says he is is excited to return to his home club.
“Firstly, I just want to say how grateful I am to be given this opportunity again,” he said.
“There’s been a lot of work put in behind the scenes and a lot of guys have shown faith in me so all I’m focusing on right now is putting my best foot forward. I have a bigger ‘why’ now and that is what fuels me. In saying that, I’m excited to be back here.
“Even at 29, I’m still learning and we’re really pushing each other. It’s been an intense hit the last few weeks, but I think I’m in a lot better place physically.
“I’m a Queenslander. I was born there. I started playing rugby there. It’s where the dream began. I think a big part as well is that I owe Queensland the best version of myself. I came back last time and I wasn’t in the best place mentally, but also physically I was quite broken, so I couldn’t produce and perform the rugby I wanted to for the team.
“I’m finally ready to return and make amends. I want to do right by the team and the fans, and I intend to deliver the very best of my energy. If I can help the team get back to the top of the sport and if we can bring success back to Queensland, that would be a dream for me.
“The last time I returned, I thought I was ready to repair some of the mistakes I made but also reach my rugby potential, but it was too rushed. I didn’t recognise how much pain I was still in mentally, in saying that, I wouldn’t change it because I was guided to the correct mentors.
“I’ve been on a journey ever since to understanding my true self and how I’m meant to use my privileged position in rugby. I see now that rugby is a gift and I want my journey back to inspire possibly other young men out there who may be a little lost in the world right now. If I can make it back from adversity, then so can you.
“I think 12 is my position. I’ve been playing there the last two years and I’m most comfortable there. I think it’s best with the style of Rugby I play and the way I have developed being overseas. Also, I’m now a bit of a nugget so I fit in there quite nicely.
“But of course, I will cover anywhere in the backline – whatever the team needs. It would simply just be an honour to put the shirt back on again. I would play prop if I had to.”