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Force ends talks with Europe-bound O'Connor

Western Force ends contract talks with O'Connor, says the troubled Wallaby is going to Europe

Force ends talks with Europe-bound O'Connor

PERTH, Australia (AP) -- The Western Force says its negotiations with James O'Connor have ended after the troubled Wallaby decided to play in Europe.

The Force was the only one of Australia's five Super Rugby clubs prepared to contract O'Connor after he was released by the Melbourne Rebels at the end of the 2013 season. The Australian Rugby Union earlier this month terminated O'Connor's rich national contract for the remainder of 2013 and said it wouldn't offer him a 2014 deal after a series of high-profile off-field problems.

The Force "have been informed by James directly that he intends to continue his playing career in Europe for the time being,"RugbyWA chief executive Mark Sinderberry said in a statement released Wednesday.

O'Connor would have been eligible to play for Australia next year if he'd signed with the Force and didn't have a national contract, but would have earned only match fees if he was selected.

Under Australia's existing guidelines, foreign-based players are ineligible for Wallabies squads.

O'Connor had not confirmed his plans before the Force released its statement.

The ARU finally ran out of patience with the 23-year-old O'Connor after he was reportedly escorted from the Perth airport terminal by police after arguing with airline staff while trying to board a flight to Bali, Indonesia, with his girlfriend last month. The incident occurred a few hours after Australia's 14-13 win over Argentina in Perth and led to coach Ewen McKenzie suspending him indefinitely from the national team.

O'Connor later told News Corp. newspapers he apologized for "any issues that I have caused" and that he and the ARU had "mutually agreed to put the past behind us."

He said at the time he wanted to earn his place back in the Wallabies squad and "I realize I need to earn back a lot of respect."

O'Connor has played 44 tests after making his international debut at 17, but has never cemented himself in one position and has played primarily on the wing as well as stints at fullback, flyhalf and center.

O'Connor was heavily criticized after being photographed with teammate Kurtley Beale and a British fan at a fast-food outlet at 4 a.m. just three days before Australia's second test against the British and Irish Lions in June. In a petulant statement after Australia's series-leveling win in that test, O'Connor said he had learned from the incident and wanted to put it behind him.

He then allegedly missed the team bus to training on the day before the deciding third test against the Lions in Sydney the following week. The Wallabies lost the series 2-1.


Updated : 2020-11-30 22:23 GMT+08:00