Argentina

Boozy O'Connor axed

Fri, 20 Sep 2013 07:42
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James and I had a long conversation around those expectations
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Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie has stood down bad boy  James O'Connor for failing to "demonstrate and uphold the behavioural and cultural standards" expected within the team.

O'Connor will not join his teammates when they assemble in Sydney on Saturday, ahead of their two-game tour of South Africa and Argentina.

This follows after the controversial wing's latest off-field misdemeanour.

O'Connor was prevented from boarding a flight in Perth in the early hours of last Sunday, because he was drunk and belligerent.

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 plane to Bali with his girlfriend hours after Australia beat Argentina in the Rugby Championship last Saturday.

McKenzie said no timeframe was being placed on his selection availability.

"We won't be forced into making any decisions around his return until I'm satisfied that he can once again contribute positively to what we are trying to achieve as a group," McKenzie said.

"The reality is that representing your country is the ultimate honour, but also a week-to-week proposition.

"To be selected, players must consistently do the right things on and off the field.

"We'll continue to assess James on that basis before any team decisions are made about a return."

In addition, the Australian Rugby Union is continuing its investigation into the incident involving O'Connor at the Perth International Airport in the early hours of last Sunday, September 15.

Once completed, a decision on the next course of action will be taken.

"My views and expectations around team culture and behaviours, along with those of his teammates, are extremely clear and it's important for the Wallabies and Rugby in general to be spoken about positively for the right reasons," he said.

"James and I had a long conversation around those expectations before the tournament commenced.

"As a result, and separate to the outcomes of the current investigation, James will not be joining us in Sydney tomorrow [Saturday].

"We must put the team first without any distractions hindering them during a really tough two-game tour."

Waratahs wing Peter Betham will replace O'Connor in the Wallabies 28-man playing squad.

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