James O’Connor Insisted On ‘Special’ Clauses In His Rugby Australia Contract
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Rugby Australia director of rugby Scott Johnson has revealed James O’Connor requested some ‘special’ clauses in his contract with the union to ensure good behaviour.
O’Connor, who last played for Australia back in 2013, was recently granted an early release from his lucrative contract with Sale Sharks, before signing a deal with Rugby Australia and the Queensland Reds to reignite his Test career.
The 29-year-old has struggled with injury and disciplinary problems over the last few years, and after taking special measures to get his body right – he’s now looking to permanently address the latter.
He has insisted on clauses in his contract that allow Australia and the Reds to release him should he step out of line in any way.
“It’s a clean skin from him to say ‘I just want to talk about rugby, if I play up you’ve got the right [to release me] — it’s not going to be an arduous process’,” Johnson said.
“We’re not even talking about [the clauses]. He wanted them in. He wanted complete transparency to protect everyone because he was sincere of his wishes.
“So it’s really good to have a lad forcing it to say, ‘Just believe me ’cause this is what I’m about’ and I go back to [the fact] that he’s a young bloke coming back who just wants to talk about rugby and be seen as a rugby player and we’re there to support him.
“It’s a good statement for players accepting their responsibility for their career so he’s determined this and we’ve supported him on it.”
“There were a lot of conversations and I needed to understand why he wanted to do this. It certainly wasn’t the money.” Johnson added
“We saw the best of him as a young player. We’re hoping the sport allows us to really showcase what we’ve missed the last five or six years.
“I genuinely believe in his sincerity about what he’s trying to achieve. I think it’s good for our sport if he comes back and plays well and is the man he really aspires to be.”