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'There's a good lad in there': Cheika hopes James O'Connor will get help after cocaine arrest

The Wallabies boss suggests that the talented back should put rugby aside to sort his personal issues out.

O'Connor played for the Wallabies when the Lions toured in 2013.
O'Connor played for the Wallabies when the Lions toured in 2013.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

WALLABIES COACH MICHAEL Cheika says drug-tainted James O’Connor is a “good lad”, but he needs help after being charged by French police with cocaine possession.

The 26-year-old was busted with former All Black Ali Williams at the weekend after allegedly being found with 2.4 grams (0.08 ounces) of the drug outside a nightclub near the Champs Elysees in Paris.

“It’s disappointing isn’t it, for him,” he told Fox Sports last night, adding that O’Connor was a decent person.

“If he wasn’t he would be away doing other stuff, he wouldn’t be in rugby, in a team sport, having the camaraderie around of being in that.

“There is a good lad in there and I think we just have to leave the footy out of it for a minute and let the guy get the assistance he needs, to get back personally first of all, and then we’ll see about footy.”

Michael Cheika Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

O’Connor’s French club Toulon has temporarily suspended the former Australian international, who made his Wallabies debut at the age of 18 and has gone on to win 44 caps.

His run-in with Paris police is not his first off-field digression. He was banned from boarding a plane in Perth after his last Test, against Argentina in 2013, later apologising for the drunken incident which also saw him removed from the airport.

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