Toulon-James O'Connor deal 'not the case'
January 22, 2014
James O'Connor currently is playing for London Irish © Getty Images
James O'Connor remains in negotiations with "several European clubs" with a view to returning to Australia for 2015, but reports he has signed a three-year deal with Toulon are incorrect according to the player's management.
O'Connor signed a short-term deal with London Irish after the Australian Rugby Union cancelled his contract last year. He is playing for the Exiles until the end of the Premiership season but has made clear he is keen to find other options for next season.
O'Connor's manager, David Shand, told Fox Sports News that he was negotiating to secure another short-term contract with a European club that would allow the player to return to Australia for the 2015 Super Rugby season in order to be eligible for Wallabies selection for Rugby World Cup 2015.
But he denied reports in French newspaper Midi Olympique that O'Connor had signed a deal with Toulon with a clause that would allow him to return to Australia for 2015 before heading back to France. "That was not the case," Fox Sports News quoted Shand as saying with reference to the report.
Another French newspaper, L'Equipe, previously reported that O'Connor's move to Toulon was a "certainty, even if the duration of the contract is not yet known". And the player himself was spotted at Toulon's training ground in November, just 24 hours after debuting for London Irish, with reports he met club owner Mourad Boudjellal and head of recruitment Laurent Emmanuelli.
Ewen McKenzie, meanwhile, said that he spoke to O'Connor "periodically", the Wallabies coach telling Fox Sports News that he tracked "all the players overseas who might be coming back".
"The more the merrier from my perspective," McKenzie said. "I want to make picking a World Cup team in '15 a hard job."
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