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ARU investigate O'Connor booze saga

Thu, 19 Sep 2013 06:51
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It is alleged the man was intoxicated
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The Australian Rugby Union is investigating reports that an intoxicated Wallaby wing James O'Connor was refused permission to board a flight.

The incident, in the early hours of last Sunday's when O'Connor was heading to Bali, Indonesia from Perth, saw the young star being escorted by police from the airport terminal buildings.

The ARU released a statement saying they requested more information from the troubled O'Connor, who has been in disciplinary trouble before and currently has not signed with any Super Rugby team for next season.

"Earlier this week, [the] Australian Rugby Union was made aware of an alleged incident involving James O'Connor at Perth International Airport in the early hours of Sunday, September 15," the statement said.

"While [the] ARU had not received any formal notification, complaints or reports from police, airline or security officials, ARU began an investigation into the alleged incident.

"The investigation is ongoing."

Australian Federal Police released a statement saying they escorted a 23-year-old man from the terminal, but did not identify him as O'Connor.

"The AFP can confirm it spoke to a 23-year-old man at Perth International Airport in the early hours of the 15th of September [Sunday]," the police statement said.

"It is alleged the man was intoxicated.

"The airline said 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."

Media reports said O'Connor, who had played in Australia's 14-13 win over Argentina the day before in Perth, had planned to fly to the Indonesian beach resort with his girlfriend.

They said an argument ensued when the couple could not be seated together on the flight.

O'Connor, who has played 44 tests for the Wallabies, has been involved in a number of disciplinary breaches with the team, including a reported fight with two teammates in Paris during a 2010 tour.

More recently, O'Connor was photographed with teammate Kurtley Beale at a fast-food outlet at 04.00 just three days before the second Test against the British and Irish Lions in June.

O'Connor and Beale then both missed the team bus to training on the day before the deciding third Test in Sydney one week later.

The Wallabies lost the series 1-2.

The Melbourne Rebels later announced they would not sign him to a new contract, while no other Super Rugby franchise except the Western Force has shown any interest in him.

O'Connor is scheduled to go back into camp with the Wallabies on Saturday, before the team plays its two final Rugby Championship matches - against South Africa in Cape Town on September 28 and against Argentina in Rosario on October 5.

The utility back conceded after the Lions series that he had some work to do to regain the trust of some of his teammates.

"I don't play rugby to be talked about off the field," he said at the time.

"I'm playing rugby because I love it and that's what I want to be doing, playing for my country. At the moment I'm doing the hard yards and I'm trying to get involved and earn myself into the team."

"It's not hard to do, it's just putting the team first."

"There's definitely things that I already have changed and am in the process of doing, personal things."

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