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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 24 July, 2014

Toulon sign James O’Connor on one-year deal

The versatile 23-year-old Queenslander will complete the current season with London Irish.

James O'Connor will play for Toulon next season.
James O'Connor will play for Toulon next season.

BIG-SPENDING FRENCH Top 14 side Toulon have agreed a one-year deal for next season with Australian back James O’Connor, club president Mourad Boudjellal announced on Thursday.

O’Connor moved to English Premiership outfit London Irish after his Australian contract was terminated as a result of numerous incidents.

The versatile 23-year-old Queenslander will complete the current season with the Irish before switching to the south of France to play for Bernard’s Laporte’s side.

At Toulon he will link up with former Wallabies Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell as well as other new signings in the shape of Welsh internationals Leigh Halfpenny and Ian Evans.

A move to Toulon, however, could jeopardise O’Connor’s prospects of playing in the 2015 World Cup as Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has gone on record as saying that any player who wants to be considered must play for an Australian province in 2015.

O’Connor made his Australia debut at the age of 18 in 2008 and has made 44 appearances for his country, featuring at fly-half, centre, wing and full-back.

The former Western Force and Melbourne Rebels man played against the British and Irish Lions last year notably scoring a try in Australia’s third Test defeat.

However, he has developed a reputation as a troublemaker following several brushes with the rugby authorities in recent years.

He was dropped by Australia in September in the wake of an incident at Perth airport that reportedly saw him escorted from the premises for arguing with airline staff.

McKenzie subsequently declared that O’Connor would have to “modify (his) behaviour” if he wanted to resurrect his international career.

- © AFP, 2014

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