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James O’Connor set to make return for Australia


James O'Connor

James O’Connor’s last World Cup appearance was in 2011

Australian utility back James O’Connor could make his international return this weekend after a six-year absence.

The 29-year-old was released by Sale Sharks earlier this month and has now joined Queensland Reds, making him eligible to play for Australia.

O’Connor was released by the Australian Rugby Union in 2013 after various off-field incidents.

“I’m finally ready to return and make amends,” said O’Connor, who is eligible for World Cup selection.

“I want to do right by the team and the fans, and I intend to deliver the very best of my energy.”

O’Connor, who has also played for London Irish and Toulon, is with the Australia squad for Saturday’s opening Rugby Championship match against South Africa.

Having made his Wallabies debut aged 18, he has 44 international caps and has also scored 551 points in 71 Super Rugby games in Australia.

In April 2017, he was ordered to attend a behavioural awareness programme because of a drug offence in Paris.

“He’s matured and understands the leadership roles both on and off the field,” said Rugby Australia’s director of rugby Scott Johnson.

“He’s been honest and transparent throughout this whole process. We want to back the man to be the player we know he can be.”

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