Rugby: O'Connor released by ARU

James O'Connor is off the Wallabies' payroll until at least 2015 and won't be considered for the end of year tour to Europe as part of his punishment for poor off-field behaviour. Photo/ Getty Images.
James O'Connor is off the Wallabies' payroll until at least 2015 and won't be considered for the end of year tour to Europe as part of his punishment for poor off-field behaviour. Photo/ Getty Images.

James O'Connor is off the Wallabies' payroll until at least 2015 and won't be considered for the end of year tour to Europe as part of his punishment for poor off-field behaviour.

The Australian Rugby Union has announced the decisions following an investigation into the wayward Wallaby's behaviour at Perth airport last month that led to him being refused entry to a flight to Bali.

The parties say they came to a mutual decision that O'Connor would be granted an early release from his national contract for the remainder of this year.

Provided O'Connor plays for an Australian Super Rugby team in 2014, he will still be considered for the Wallabies but will only receive match payments, with no top-up from the ARU in his contract.

It's a massive financial blow for the 23-year-old.

O'Connor was axed from Australia's Rugby Championship squad, missing the final two games against South Africa and Argentina, who they play in Rosario on Sunday (NZT).

The Australian Rugby Union said O'Connor needed to make significant changes to his behaviour.

"We have determined that James must make some changes with respect to his off-field responsibilities and ensure that this approach is consistent with the values of our game,'' said ARU chief executive Bill Pulver.

"We are hopeful that James will stay in Australian rugby and play in next year's Super Rugby competition and that he sees this as an opportunity to re-focus his attitude.''

Dependent on his behaviour O'Connor, who has played 44 Tests, could be considered for a national contract in 2015.

O'Connor, who was cut from the Melbourne Rebels and is in talks over a Super Rugby contgract with the Perth-based Western Force, issued a statement.

"I want to apologise for any issues that I have caused and I want express my respect for my teammates, the Wallabies and the jumper,'' he said.

"There is nothing more important and rewarding to me than representing my country.

"I want to say again that I do appreciate the impact that some of my actions have had on my team and the sport in general.

"I recognise that given my actions and the circumstances it is best for the team and myself to go in different directions in the short term. ''

I remain focused on earning my place back with the Wallabies and will be looking for the right opportunity to do this.''

The Australian Rugby Union said O'Connor needed to make significant changes to his behaviour.

"We have determined that James must make some changes with respect to his off-field responsibilities and ensure that this approach is consistent with the values of our game,'' said ARU chief executive Bill Pulver.

"We are hopeful that James will stay in Australian rugby and play in next year's Super Rugby competition and that he sees this as an opportunity to re-focus his attitude.''

Dependent on his behaviour O'Connor, who has played 44 Tests, could be considered for a national contract in 2015.

O'Connor, who was cut from the Melbourne Rebels and is in talks over a Super Rugby contgract with the Perth-based Western Force, issued a statement.

"I want to apologise for any issues that I have caused and I want express my respect for my teammates, the Wallabies and the jumper,'' he said.

"There is nothing more important and rewarding to me than representing my country.

"I want to say again that I do appreciate the impact that some of my actions have had on my team and the sport in general.

"I recognise that given my actions and the circumstances it is best for the team and myself to go in different directions in the short term. ''

I remain focused on earning my place back with the Wallabies and will be looking for the right opportunity to do this.''

-AAP

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