Reds release O’Connor for ‘personal reasons’

James O'Connor could be back playing in Europe soon

Queensland Super Rugby franchise the Reds have released former Wallabies winger James O’Connor from his contract for personal reasons.

The release is effective immediately and allows O’Connor to return to Europe where he played for London Irish and Toulon last year.

O’Connor joined the Reds on a two-year deal ahead of the 2015 season, but due to a number of personal matters, which the QRU, Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and the Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) have been aware of since May, the QRU has agreed to release him from his second year.

QRU CEO Jim Carmichael said: “James has experienced a difficult time personally since returning to Australia and we’ve been aware of that for some time. It is disappointing that James was not able to reach his full potential while he was with us but after a great deal of thought, we believe it is in his and the Reds’ best interests that we exercise our release clause in his contract. ”

“Therefore, James will return to Europe where he feels the spotlight on him is less intense. In our discussions, we’ve agreed that should James return to Australia to play rugby in the future, the Reds will have the first and last rights to secure his services.”

James O’Connor said, “I came to the Reds with the intention of playing my best football in my home state and looking for a fresh start but I’ve struggled with some personal matters. The Reds are a wonderful team and organisation and I’m very disappointed I wasn’t able to achieve my full potential for my home state. I wish the Reds all the best for 2016 and beyond.”

RUPA CEO Ross Xenos said: “James’ willingness to be proactive and speak to the Reds and RUPA regarding matters that too often are supressed until it is too late are testament to his development and maturing. James is a player of enormous talent and we all hope he will benefit from time and space out of the spotlight to return to Australian Rugby in the future.”

“In releasing James, the Reds have clearly shown their commitment to the welfare of their people and credit to them for their leadership and understanding.”

The Reds have not commented on whether O’Connor has signed for a new club.

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