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Bad to worse: James O'Connor let go by Melbourne Rebels

The fresh face of Australian rugby is looking for a new home.

Image: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

TIMING IS EVERYTHING. And within hours of James O’Connor scoring during Australia’s heavy defeat to the Lions the Melbourne Rebels announced they would not be offering him a new contract.

The utility back moved to the fledgling Super XV franchise two years ago after making his breakthrough with the Western Force. Now he will likely seek out his options among the Waratahs, Reds and Brumbies unless a last-minute European move was to prove tempting.

Rebels chief executive Rob Clarke thanks O’Connor for helping the Melbourne club “gain traction” before pointing to the next phase for the Super Rugby strugglers.

“After three years in the Super 15 competition, the Club is entering the next phase of development.” Clarke said. “I am very confident in our player recruitment strategies which continue to identify some excellent emerging talent. This group will provide the platform for continual improvement, both on and off the field.”

O’Connor was at the centre of controversy during the Lions tour when he was pictured in a fast food chain in the small hours following the Rebels’ loss to the tourists.

Long touted as a number 10 of the highest order, he fell a long way short of those expectations this summer after being entrusted with the first-five eighth spot by Robbie Deans. Having played most of his professional rugby career on the right wing or fullback it seems that is where he will operate from here on in. At what club remains to be seen.

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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