O’Connor’s Toulon signing rules out Super Rugby

Former Wallaby back James O’Connor has seemingly ruled out a return to Super Rugby in 2015 by signing with French Top 14 side and Heineken Cup champions Toulon from next season.

O’Connor and his current rugby club London Irish confirmed last week that he would be returning to Australia at the end of the season as he wanted to play in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has said that any player who wants to be considered for Wallaby selection must play for an Australian Super Rugby franchise in 2015.

O’Connor was dropped by the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) in September in the wake of an incident at Perth airport that reportedly saw him escorted from the premises for arguing with airline staff.

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

During the Lions tour O’Connor was out late at night with fans in Melbourne just days before a match and has developed a reputation as a troublemaker following several brushes with the rugby authorities in recent years.

After he was sacked by the ARU the versatile 23-year-old Queenslander moved to English Premiership outfit London Irish.

There were suggestions that O’Connor has signed a six month contract with Toulon which would allow him to return to Australia for the Super Rugby season but a spokesperson from Toulon said that he has signed a one year contract.

“President Mourad Boudjellal this morning said O’Connor will play for Toulon next season. And maybe more,” spokesperson for Toulon told Reuters.

A one year contract with Toulon would keep O’Connor in France until June 2015.

O’Connor was understood to have had an arrangement with the Western Force but it is unlikely that he would be allowed to return to Australia and play two or three Super Rugby matches in July 2015 for the franchise in order to be eligible for Wallaby world cup selection.

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.

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

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