James O’Connor looks set to take a break from Professional Rugby after accepting an early release from the final year of his Australian Rugby Union contract.
The latest setback for the versatile back, currently without a Super Rugby following his release by the Melbourne Rebels, comes after he was thrown out of a Perth airport just hours after playing in the Wallabies’ one-point victory over Argentina last month.
A statement released by O’Connor read “The Australian Rugby Union and I have mutually agreed to put the past behind us and move forward from today,”
“As a professional, I am focused in developing as a person and as an athlete and intend to do everything possible to put myself in the best environment to do that.
“I want to apologise for any issues that I have caused and I want express my respect for my teammates, the Wallabies and the jumper. There is nothing more important and rewarding to me than representing my country.
“I want to say again that I do appreciate the impact that some of my actions have had on my team and the sport in general.
“I recognise that given my actions and the circumstances it is best for the team and myself to go in different directions in the short term.
“I remain focused on earning my place back with the Wallabies and will be looking for the right opportunity to do this.”
O’Connor has been urged to take a break away from professional rugby and consider his future by former club Western Force, with whom he had been in talks about re-joining.
O’Connor played for Australia in the loss to the British and Irish Lions, and has been capped 43 times and will now miss the upcoming tour to England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy.
Other options open to the number 10 would be to accept a contract in Europe or Japan although he must play for a Super Rugby franchise if he is to be eligible to add to his tally of caps.