London Irish today confirmed what everyone has known for a little while: they have signed talented but troubled Wallaby exile James O’Connor.
Confirming O’Connor’s signing today, London Irish Director of Rugby Brian Smith said: “James is a world-class player and a terrific kid and it is fantastic to have him at London Irish. He will bring a huge amount of experience to our group and will fit in well to our style of play. He is fit and ready to play so the coaching group will get him up to date on everything and hopefully he’ll be ready to go this weekend.”
Commenting on his decision to join London Irish, O’Connor said: “Having decided that I needed a change from both a personal and playing point of view, I spoke to clubs in Japan and France, and concluded that the best way forward for my development was to move to England.
“Given that I’ve left my support network back in Australia, London Irish offered me an environment that I felt comfortable with. The club is renowned as a welcoming, family club throughout the world, it has a highly regarded Australian Director of Rugby in Brian Smith and plays a style of rugby that appeals to me.
“In England and Wales they play a very high-pressured, territory based game. I thoroughly believe I can improve elements of my game by playing in the Aviva Premiership.”
O’Connor was recently axed from the Wallaby set-up after arriving at Perth airport for a team flight inebriated. He has been told that there is time for him to get back into the squad ahead of the 2015 World Cup, so is likely to return to his country of birth at the end of this season.
What do you make of the signing? Will it be beneficial for London Irish, and for O’Connor?
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images