Rugby: Oz coach keen to help O'Connor

By Ben Horne

James O'Connor.
James O'Connor.

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie is keen to play a role in rehabilitating fallen star James O'Connor.

McKenzie revealed he's maintained contact with the 23-year-old who had his contract torn up by the ARU this month for discipline breaches, with the final straw coming when he was denied boarding for a flight to Bali after he'd allegedly been drinking.

O'Connor is taking time out with his family on the Gold Coast as he maps out his career direction.

The Perth-based Western Force remain favourites to sign the talented utility back, but on a significantly reduced salary now his ARU top-up has been taken away. While ruled out for the rest of this year, O'Connor will be able to return to the Wallabies next year, if he is still playing in Australia.

McKenzie said he was interested in helping O'Connor. "I'm interested in improving him as a person so I'm happy to help in that process."

Captain James Horwill said the Wallabies had adopted a team-first mentality over O'Connor's situation as they couldn't afford to be distracted by off-field issues but also made it clear the Wallabies wouldn't be abandoning him.

"He needs to work out what he wants on and off the field and the guys are always here if he wants to talk."

- AAP

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