Former Australian golden boy James O'Connor has disclosed that he injected painkillers into an injured ankle for two seasons and now needs surgery to fix the problem.

The 27-year-old, who joined English Premiership side Sale Sharks last year from top French club Toulon, made the startling admission on his Instagram account.

O'Connor said he injured his ankle before the start of the 2016 season at Toulon, and self-medicated so he could play through the pain barrier.

Hey guys, just wanted to keep you all in the loop. I’ve recently undergone surgery to clean out my ankle and have another operation in 2 weeks to fix some complications that have arisen as a direct result of the reconstruction work I had done last year. It’s been a very humbling experience having to stop and process everything that has happened recently but since making the decision to embrace this reflective period rather than fight it, I have started to let go and re-connect with my true power! On the 3rd day of preseason in 2016, I injured my ankle at Toulon. Since then I’ve been fighting to play for nearly 2 seasons! It got to the point where I was only training 1 session a week and injecting it with local anaesthetic just to be able to take the field. At the time I knew this wasn’t in my bodies best interest but I was so determined to play and win a final with Toulon that I disregarded all the signs and carelessly played on. I Ended up getting the reconstruction 5 days after losing that final and moved across to Sale Sharks to start fresh. After the first training session I knew my ankle hadn’t healed but again, I ignored the signs because I wanted to make an impact at my new club. I masked the pain through various means and just got on with the job. I did whatever I could to get onto the field to play...3 games on, 2 weeks off and cortisol to PRP injections became my routine! This pressure in no way came from the club. I thought I could beat this through force & never actually allowed myself to stop and heal correctly. So now I’m here in the exact same place I was last year, 1 surgery down with another to go...but this time around we (club & I) have taken all the correct measures and discussions with my surgeon, going over all possibilities and put together a great rehab program to get me back for next season faster, stronger and pain free! Sounds funny but I cant even express how excited I am to just take this time and recover properly, heal correctly and start playing with power again! Just want to recognise my team mates and coaches for having the patience and supporting me through this year. Also anyone who has been following my journey..

A post shared by James O'Connor (@jamesoconnor832) on

"On the 3rd day of preseason in 2016, I injured my ankle at Toulon," said the softly-spoken O'Connor, who has played just 13 times for Sale this term.

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"Since then I've been fighting to play for nearly 2 seasons!

"It got to the point where I was only training 1 session a week and injecting it with local anaesthetic just to be able to take the field."

He said he was motivated by Toulon's bid to win the French championship, which ended in defeat to Clermont in a pulsating final last June.

"I was so determined to play and win a final with Toulon that I disregarded all the signs and carelessly played on," he said.

O'Connor, who left Toulon under a cloud following a cocaine bust, disclosed that he had reconstruction surgery on the joint before arriving at Sale for the start of the 2017 season.

However the problem persisted for the back seen at one point as the future superstar of the Wallaby team, earning 44 caps by the age of 23 before various scrapes resulted in him losing his contract with the Australian Rugby Union.

O'Connor insists that he played with the injured ankle not because of pressure from Toulon or Sale but because he was so desperate to succeed on the pitch.

"I did whatever I could to get onto the field to play... 3 games on, 2 weeks off and cortisol to Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections became my routine!" he wrote.

"This pressure in no way came from the club. I thought I could beat this through force & never actually allowed myself to stop and heal correctly."

As a result O'Connor says he is back to where he was last year — facing more surgery on the injured joint.

Only this time, he says, his club have taken charge of his treatment.

"So now I'm here in the exact same place I was last year, 1 surgery down with another to go," he wrote.

"But this time around we (club & I) have taken all the correct measures and discussions with my surgeon, going over all possibilities and put together a great rehab program to get me back for next season faster, stronger and pain free!"

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