x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

James O’Connor is running out of avenues to travel

James O'Connor, the latest problem child of Australian rugby, is definitely running short of options. Having already been jettisoned from his club for unacceptable behaviour, the Australian union now have had enough, too.

James O'Connor's latest off the pitch incident at an airport has resulted with him being tossed off the Australian national team. Mark Kolbe / Getty Images
James O'Connor's latest off the pitch incident at an airport has resulted with him being tossed off the Australian national team. Mark Kolbe / Getty Images

Where next for James O’Connor? It is an exaggeration to think such a uniquely talented player could be on rugby’s scrap heap at age 23.

But the latest problem child of Australian rugby is definitely running short of options. Having already been jettisoned from his club for unacceptable behaviour, the Australian union now have had enough, too. Getting chucked out of Perth airport was the last straw. He has been told he is more trouble than he is worth.

He made all the right noises in his response to having the final three months of his Wallabies contract terminated, but it sounds just like PR gloss.

You reckon he honestly said: “I am focused on developing as a person and as an athlete and intend to do everything possible to put myself in the best environment to do that”? We’ve heard that all before, so excuse us for not believing it.

What can he do next for the better? Somewhere in Europe would probably give him a go, France most likely. Mourad Boudjellal, the comic-book impresario who runs Toulon, has never been afraid of taking on a big ego if it comes with celebrity pulling power.

But O’Connor says he wants to earn back his Wallabies shirt. To do that he will need to be closer to home and in full view.

What about the world sevens series? Many have used sevens as a means for rehabilitation in the past. O’Connor’s skills would be ideally suited to the format. And with him in their ranks, Australia would even be a contender at the Dubai Sevens for once.

pradley@thenational.ae