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Australia's prodigal son on the verge of a sensational return

James O’Connor could join Michael Cheika’s World Cup squad six years after a string of off-field incidents saw him exiled.

James O'Connor was released by Sale Sharks last week.
James O'Connor was released by Sale Sharks last week.
Image: Martin Rickett

AUSTRALIAN RUGBY’S PRODIGAL son James O’Connor and injured great David Pocock will join the Wallabies’ training camp in South Africa this week, coach Michael Cheika has confirmed.

While neither is officially part of Australia’s touring squad for the Rugby Championship opener against the Springboks on 20 July, Cheika said he was looking forward to having them in Johannesburg.

“It’s a good opportunity for James to integrate into the team playing principles,” the coach told the Rugby Australia website.

“For David, we really want to do some specific rehab work with him and it’s just better to have him with us at this stage to ensure we get his return to play exactly right,” Cheika added.

O’Connor is on the verge of a sensational return for the Wallabies that could see him join Cheika’s World Cup squad six years after a string of off-field incidents saw him exiled from Australia’s Test team.

The utility back, who had 44 Test caps before his international career was derailed, was released by English Premiership club Sale Sharks last week to pursue his dream.

He will be eligible to play for the Wallabies once he signs to an Australian Super Rugby team, with Queensland Reds considered his most likely destination.

However, Australian media report the Reds are insisting any contract include clauses governing off-field behaviour before it is finalised and O’Connor officially rejoins the Wallabies.

Flanker Pocock is considered vital to Australia’s World Cup prospects and was omitted from the playing squad for South Africa to help him overcome a long-term calf injury in time for the tournament later this year.

Cheika last week rated the 77-Test veteran a “better than” 50-50 chance of making the trip to Japan.

© – AFP, 2019 

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