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O'Connor still considering return to Super Rugby

James O'Connor is still considering returning to Australia

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Article Published: Saturday 28 December 2013|

Former Wallaby James O'Connor has indicated that he is still considering a return top Super Rugby in Australia in a bid to play at the 2015 Rugby World Cup despite reports that he has agreed to play for Toulon next season.

O'Connor had his Australian Rugby Union contract torn up and has been playing in England for London Irish over the last couple of months.

There have been reports that O'Connor has agreed terms with French club Toulon for next season which would rule him out of Super Rugby in 2015 given that the French season that year ends in June 2015.

O'Connor has however insisted that Toulon's head coach Bernard Laporte was premature in announcing that he had agreed to join the Heineken Cup champions for the 2014-5 season.

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has made it clear to Australian players that they will have to be playing rugby in Australia if they want to be selected for the Wallabies.

That means that should O'Connor play a full season for Toulon he would not be able to play a season of Super Rugby.

"I obviously have some decisions to make in terms of the World Cup," O'Connor told GetReading.

"I have been told I have to have been playing in (Super rugby) for a season (to be selected for Australia) at the World Cup.

"That complicates things a bit. But I'm loving my time here and the players have been great to me."

London Irish Director of Rugby Brian Smith who is a former Wallaby himself is also adamant that O'Connor has not signed a deal with Toulon.

"James hasn't signed for anyone."

"He's got an offer from us, but I don't know what French offers he's got."

London Irish have recently been taken over by a consortium led by Mick Crossan who told the Rugby Paper he wants O'Connor to spearhead the club's planned resurgence.

"I wouldn't like to see James O'Connor go," he said.

"I've met him on quite a few occasions now and he's a class act on and off the field who I'd like to help spearhead our march back to where we want to be."

Even though O'Connor left Australia under a cloud following his off-field discipline issues Crossan only had good things to say about the former Wallabies' behaviour.

"He turned 23 in July and all the reports you heard was that you've got this young lad who was off the rails. He's far from that."

"My son's 23 and James has done nothing different occasionally to what my son does most weekends."

"After his first game against Northampton, James attended our post-match Q and A and he held the whole crowd."

"Whether people were seven or 70, he had time for them all and he made sure he spoke to every one of them."

"This lad is very special ... It's about building a community (at London Irish) and he can be at the forefront."

Should O'Connor return to Australia and Super Rugby he is expected to play for the Western Force in Perth.

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