James O'Connor

  • 30 Age
  • 97kg Weight
  • 180cm Height

Biography

A schoolboy prodigy, one who could have played for Australia (place of birth), New Zealand (parents) or South Africa (maternal grandparents), O’Connor earned 44 Wallaby caps by the age of 23 before his international career seemingly came to an abrupt end.

Born in Queensland, but raised in the early part of his life in New Zealand, O’Connor was one of a long list of Wallabies to have graduated from Nudgee College, Brisbane. A back of phenomenal skill and extreme versatility, O’Connor won selection in Queensland's 2007 champion schools’ side and then Australian Schools.

In 2008 O'Connor became the youngest Super Rugby debutant in history when he ran out for the Western Force. Later that same year, and with only a handful of provincial caps to his name, he was picked in the Wallabies’ Spring Tour squad. O’Connor then made his Test debut - aged just 18 years and 126 days - as a replacement against Italy in Padova.

At the time O’Connor had the Rugby world at his feet and his performances over the following three seasons confirmed that as fact. In 2010 he helped to snap an 11-game, two-plus year losing streak against the All Blacks in Hong Kong when he scored a last-minute try, followed by an angled conversion to give Australia a triumphant 26-24 win.

O’Connor was selected to his first Rugby World Cup squad in 2011 and calmly slotted a decisive 72nd minute penalty against South Africa to secure the Wallabies a semi-final tie with New Zealand.

Unfortunately a succession of well-publicised off-field incidents soon overwhelmed O’Connor’s deeds on the rugby pitch. In late 2013 the then-ARU decided to release him from his national contract.

O’Connor spent the next two years in Europe, firstly with London Irish and then Toulon. In 2015 O’Connor returned to Australia, playing for the Reds, but that stint was cut short and he returned to Europe.

He moved on from France and joined English club Sale ahead of the 2017-18 season. It was during this stint with Sale that O’Connor discovered a new lease of life thanks to Saviour World, a holistic men’s health group. From breathing techniques to dietary plans, O’Connor’s work with the group left him completely transformed as a man.

O’Connor returned to Australia at the backend of the 2019 Super Rugby season with the lone hope that he could win a place in the Wallabies’ World Cup squad. He did far more than that, firstly with a standout performance from the unfamiliar outside centre position in the record breaking win over New Zealand and secondly as the a true leader within the broader squad.

Those leadership qualities shone out in 2020 as O’Connor steered the Queensland Reds attack to the final of Super Rugby AU, their first since victory in 2011.

2007

Selected in the Australian Schools squad for Tests against England U18s and New Zealand Schools.

2007/08

Represented Australia in the IRB Sevens World Series.

2008

O’Connor won his first Test cap off the bench when he replaced Adam Ashley-Cooper at fullback in the 30-20 victory over Italy in Padova.

2009

O’Connor earned his first run-on Test cap and scored his first Test try when selected at fullback in the 1st Test, 31-8 victory over Italy in Canberra. He won 13 caps, seven of which came as a starting No.15, from a possible 14 internationals.

2010

He missed the opening Test of the season against Fiji but went on to secure caps in 13 of the final 14 Tests, ten of them as starting right wing. In the season’s final Test O’Connor scored an Australian record 29 points against the French and became the 20th Wallaby to score 100 or more Test points.

2011

O’Connor earned a further 10 Test caps throughout the season, one in which he finished as the team’s highest points scorer (89).

2012

A hamstring injury originally suffered during the Super Rugby season saw O’Connor miss the entire international season.

2013

Despite having never played No.10 at international level O’Connor was chosen at fly half for each of the three British & Irish Lions Tests. He won four more caps, each on the wing, during the Rugby Championship.

2019

When O’Connor came on to the field and replaced Tevita Kuridrani against Argentina it had been an incredible five years and 316 days since his 44th Test cap. He went on to play a total of eight Tests and win selection to his second Rugby World Cup.