O'Connor in talks with Toulon?

Mon, 04 Nov 2013 19:14
Large jameso connorlondonirish Large jameso connornorthamptonsaints Large jameso connorlondonirishtraining

James O'Connor was reportedly seen meeting with Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal 24 hours after making his London Irish debut.

James O'Connor was reportedly seen meeting with Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal 24 hours after making his London Irish debut.

O'Connor impressed in his first Premiership appearance but is reportedly already in talks with Toulon regarding a move to France next season.   

Varmatin reports the 23-year-old Wallaby was photographed at Toulon's training ground on Monday and met with Boudjellal and director of recruitment Laurent Emmanuelli.

O'Connor, who was released by the Australian Rugby Union earlier this year, said he was surprised by the pace of Premiership rugby after the 14-19 loss to Northampton Saints on Sunday.

"The speed of the game was very surprising. I thought Super Rugby was fast but I was really blowing out there, that's for sure. It felt great. The club and all the boys have been awesome since I arrived and I am really looking forward to my time here,” he said.  

"I didn't feel 100% and can get better. I wanted to perform. It was one of the best pitches I have played on. It was just a shame we could not get the win."

Director of Rugby Brian Smith was disappointed with the result but reserved praise for new signing O'Connor.

"James is 23 and is still just a kid who gets up in the morning and puts his trousers on one leg at a time like everyone else,” he said.

"A lot has happened quickly to him but he's settled in straight away and showed his class. The boys enjoyed playing with him.

"We see him as 15, even though many see him as a jack of all trades who has played right along the backline and he wants to establish himself as a fullback."

The Exiles dropped to 11th in the Premiership table with the defeat, their fifth from seven.

“It's always very difficult when you lose. You could hear a pin drop in our changing room afterwards and that's the way it should be when you lose a game," said Smith.

"The boys are devastated because they put a big effort in. Northampton gave us a hard time up front at the scrum. They were all over us at line-out time and defended our line-out very well.

"So it was a big test for us upfront. The boys defended very well in the line-out drive itself. But those penalties around halfway cost us. It gave a lot of field position.

"It's disappointing we came up a little bit short. I'm sure our supporters will be heartened by the spirit and the fight in the team, and that's what I am proud of."

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