4 Oct 2013

Wallabies coach urges O'Connor to stay

5:55 am on 4 October 2013

The Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie is urging the downgraded former golden boy James O'Ocnnor to fight for his international career following his national contract release.

The 23 year old has gone off the rails recently and he's facing a 400-thousand dollar pay cut to play rugby in Australia with the ARU withdrawing any top-up funds until at least 2015.

The heavy penalties come after an ARU investigation into O'Connor's behaviour when he was escorted from Perth airport by Federal police over a dispute with airline staff last month, sparking a culmination of incidents.

Ewen McKenzie is encouraging the 23-year-old to remain in Australia and play for the Western Force rather than look for a lucrative deal in Europe or Japan.

The ARU's chief executive Bill Pulver admits the Union hadn't dealt with O'Connor firmly enough in the past.

O'Connor realises he needs to earn back a lot of respect, and that is exactly what he plans to do both on and off the field.