Australia’s O’Connor makes waves yet again


Fri, Sep 20, 2013 - Page 18

Australia winger James O’Connor was embroiled in more controversy yesterday after reportedly being prevented from taking a flight because he was intoxicated.

In the latest in a string of incidents involving the Wallaby star, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) said it was investigating what happened at Perth International airport early on Sunday.

“While ARU had not received any formal notification, complaints or reports from police, airline or security officials, ARU began an investigation into the alleged incident,” a statement said.

“The investigation is ongoing,” it added.

O’Connor, who vowed just a month ago to change his ways in a bid to keep his Wallaby jersey, was trying to board a flight to Bali with his girlfriend just hours after Australia beat Argentina in the Rugby Championship on Saturday, the Sydney Morning Herald said.

Police said a 23-year-old man, widely identified in the media as O’Connor, had been removed from the airport.

“It is alleged the man was intoxicated,” an Australian Federal Police (AFP) statement said.

“The airline the man was booked to travel with made a decision not to allow him to board the aircraft. The AFP subsequently escorted the man from the terminal,” the statement added.

O’Connor, who was dumped by the Melbourne Rebels in July, was reportedly involved in a heated argument with staff at the airport.

The Australian Associated Press said the player, who is now in Bali, had denied being drunk.

O’Connor has a history of disciplinary issues, including being spotted at a burger bar at 4am three days before the must-win second Test against the British and Irish Lions in June. He also missed the team bus for the third Test.

In 2011 he was suspended after sleeping through the World Cup team announcement.

Last month, O’Connor said he was in the process of changing his approach.

“There’s definitely things that I already have changed and am in the process of doing, personal things,” he said.

The 44-Test winger was believed to be close to signing with Perth Super Rugby outfit the Western Force before the latest incident.

The Wallabies fly out of Australia tomorrow for a two-week Rugby Championship tour of Argentina and South Africa.