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James O'Connor stood down by ARU indefinitely


James O'Connor has indefinitely been stood down for behavioural issues

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Article Published: Friday 20 September 2013


Wallabies star back James O'Connor has been stood down indefinitely following an incident at Perth airport after last week's Rugby Championship clash against Argentina.

O'Connor met with Australian Rugby Union (ARU) chiefs after allegedly being prevented from taking a flight because he was drunk.

A statement from the ARU said, "James O'Connor has been stood down for failing to demonstrate and uphold the behavioural and cultural standards expected within the team."

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said, "I have to be responsible for the look of the team and I'll continue to be strong on discipline."

McKenzie said that O'Connor is a very good player but "periodic events that are bringing him down must be eliminated".

O'Connor has been replaced in the Wallabies squad by Waratahs winger Peter Betham.

As O'Connor has been stood down by the ARU and he still has no Super Rugby contract for 2014 he may be forced to play his game overseas.

Wallabies captain James Horwill says that he is disappointed in controversial winger James O'Connor after his latest off-field misdemeanour at a "critical" time for Australian rugby.

O'Connor, who vowed just a month ago to change his ways in a bid to keep his Wallaby jersey, was trying to board a plane to Bali with his girlfriend hours after Australia beat Argentina in the Rugby Championship on Saturday.

Police said a 23-year-old man, widely identified in the media as O'Connor, had been removed from Perth airport.

A deflated Horwill told the Fox Sports Rugby HQ programme late Thursday that he was disappointed the game was in the headlines again for the wrong reasons.

When asked about the O'Connor situation, Horwill said: "It's obviously disappointing in a Test week in the first 10 minutes of your show we've been speaking about an incident that's happened off the field and not things that are happening on it."

"We're embarking on a pretty critical moment of Australian rugby, you know, a two-week tour of South Africa and Argentina and it is a big, big moment for this team," he added.

"And I guess the fact that we're sitting down talking about an off-field incident, no matter who it is, is disappointing."

He said he expected more from someone representing their country.

"The team has got strong values that we want to uphold as being Wallabies and being representatives of your country," he said.

"We do have a code of conduct, I guess, a (set of) disciplinary guidelines and that goes right down from everything between what gear you're wearing to training to what you do off the field, away from training, what your expectations are of the players around the place."

O'Connor has a history of disciplinary issues, including being spotted at a burger bar at 4:00 am three days before the must-win second Test against the British and Irish Lions in June. He also missed the team bus for the Third Test.

In 2011 he was suspended after sleeping through the World Cup team announcement.

Former great Nathan Sharpe, who was O'Connor's first captain at Western Force and played alongside him in the Wallabies, said players had been disappointed by his behaviour for "a long time".

"I don't know what went on in this incident, and whether there was alcohol involved or there wasn't, but there has just been too many (incidents)," Sharpe told the Sydney Daily Telegraph.

Asked if team-mates were upset with O'Connor, Sharpe said: "Yeah, they are. They all are. I don't know if it will be said publicly but I know having been alongside most of those guys, they were disappointed a long time ago."

The Wallabies, third in the four-nation southern hemisphere Rugby Championship, are due to fly out of Australia in the coming days for the tour of South Africa and Argentina.

 
 
Rugby Championship Standings
Nation Games Points    
P W L D PF PA PD BP Ttl
1. South Africa 1 1 0 0 13 6 7 0 4
2. Australia 1 0 0 1 12 12 0 0 2
3. New Zealand 1 0 0 1 12 12 0 0 2
4. Argentina 1 0 1 0 6 13 -7 1 1
                     
Updated each Monday in order to verify with officials
 
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