The versatile player made his Test debut as a teenager
Who is James O’Connor: Ten things you should know about the Wallabies back
James O’Connor has spent more than a decade playing elite rugby but his career has not been without its ups and downs…
Ten things you should know about James O’Connor
1. James O’Connor was born on 5 July 1990 in Queensland, Australia. He stands at 5ft 11in (1.81m) and weighs 14st 9lb (93kg).
2. He joined Queensland Reds for the second time in 2019, helping them win the Super Rugby AU final in 2021.
He has previously played for Western Force and Melbourne Rebels in Australia, London Irish and Sale Sharks in England, and Toulon in France.
3. O’Connor’s parents are from New Zealand and his grandparents are from South Africa, so he was eligible to play for three countries.
He chose the country of his birth and made his debut for Australia in 2008 against Italy aged just 18. In 2009 he won the Wallabies’ Rookie of the Year award.
4. He was the youngest debutant in Super Rugby at the age of 17 years and 303 days when he played for Western Force in 2008.
5. A versatile player, O’Connor has won caps at wing, full-back, centre and fly-half.
6. O’Connor’s career has not been without controversy, with incidents involving drugs and alcohol making headlines. He told ABC News: “I pretended I didn’t care about anything, I lost interest, I was rebelling against it and made some terrible decisions. Nights out, I started drinking a lot more, doing stuff like that — I just started spiralling.”
He has also opened up about struggling with depression, particularly during long spells on the sidelines with injury, and how the organisation Saviour World helped him to reignite his career.
7. He went six years between caps at one point. After playing against Argentina in September 2013, he didn’t pull on a Wallabies jersey again until July 2019 – against the same opponents – and subsequently went on to play in that year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
He won his 50th cap against Wales at RWC 2019.
8. He has described salt and vinegar Pringles as his guilty pleasure.
9. His nickname is ‘Rabbit’ and he explained its origin to Rugby World: “I’ve had it since I was younger. I think it comes from my stepping and footwork.”
10. O’Connor took part on reality TV show Australia’s Greatest Athlete in 2010 and came third.
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