Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 3°C
INPHO/Billy Stickland James O'Connor came under criticism for his off-field behaviour last week.
# burgergate
James O'Connor admits to fast-food error
The Australian player said he made an “error of judgement” after a controversial incident last week.

WALLABIES FLY-HALF James O’Connor admits his early morning visit to a burger joint three days out from Saturday’s second Test was an error in judgement.

O’Connor and team-mate Kurtley Beale visited Hungry Jacks at 4am on Wednesday after a night out with their Melbourne Rebels team-mates.

The duo posed for a photograph with a British and Irish Lions fan and were left red faced when the happy snap was slapped across the pages of several British newspapers. O’Connor, Beale and coach Robbie Deans fronted the media on Sunday morning, with O’Connor going on the front foot in a bid to put the issue to bed.

“Look guys just before we start the press conference obviously you’re aware that Kurtley and myself made the news this week,” O’Connor said in Melbourne.

“We’ve spoken to Robbie and we’ve spoken to the players in our team and look, although we didn’t break team protocol or anything like that, it is a lack of judgement on our behalf and it’s not ideal preparation during a Test week.

“It won’t happen again and we’ll be better for it but as far as we’re concerned it’s a closed issue now.”

O’Connor, who threw the final pass for Adam Ashley-Cooper’s 75th-minute try in Saturday’s last-gasp 16-15 victory over the British and Irish Lions, bristled when pressed on the issue.

“Like I said it’s done and dusted, I just went along with preparation and didn’t let that phase us,” he said. “We’ve got a job at hand and that’s what our sole focus is, we’re here to play rugby and we did that.”

While their late-night snack didn’t technically break any team rules, senior players including Adam Ashley-Cooper have publicly stated the issue will be addressed after the series.

But O’Connor is adamant the matter is closed. “That’s what I said, close it today, it’s done and dusted mate. It’s finished, it’s done now.

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“It didn’t impact on the week at all, the preparation was as usual and we didn’t let it become a distraction at all.”

Asked what lessons he learned from the incident, O’Connor quipped: “Don’t go to Burger King in the early morning, it was an error of judgement like I said, you’ve got to be smarter than that.”

Meanwhile, Deans is hopeful Ashley-Cooper will be available for Saturday’s series decider in Sydney despite failing to complete the second Test with a knee injury.

He says Will Genia is continuing to manage his own knee injury but is confident the scrumhalf will play in next week’s winner-takes-all clash at ANZ Stadium.

The Wallabies will relocate to Sydney on Sunday afternoon while the Lions are heading to Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast before travelling down to Sydney on Thursday.

Lions skipper Sam Warburton will remain in Melbourne to have a scan on his injured hamstring on Sunday night before linking with the squad in Noosa on Monday.

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