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Former Aussie Star Seeking International Return

One of Australia’s most controversial players has his eyes on a return to international rugby with the Wallabies

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Former Wallabies back James O’Connor could be in line for a recall to the national side and a possible place at the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year.

A report that featured in The Australian claims that Rugby Australia are lining up a bid to bring O’Connor back to Super Rugby for the end of the 2020 season and beyond.

If they manage to tie him down to such a contract the 28-year-old would then become eligible for selection in the Wallabies team.

It is believed that although head coach Michael Cheika is yet to speak to the 44-cap Aussie, but new director of rugby Scott Johnson has begun making moves that would see O’Connor return to Australia.

O’Connor currently plays for English Premiership outfit Sale Sharks and has been there since 2017, with his contract set to expire at the end of next season.

He moved to Manchester following scandals which saw him removed from an airport for a drunken incident and being arrested in Paris along with former All Black Ali Williams under the suspicion of attempting to buy cocaine in early 2017.

However, despite all of this O’Connor has played on and appears to have turned a corner which has caught Johnson’s eye.

Following a trip to Iceland last year O’Connor made clear his intentions to play for the Wallabies once more and promised he is not the man he previously was.

“I now know who I was but more importantly, I now see who I must become. It is time for me to share my truth. I have a deep desire to play for the Wallabies again. I have learnt from my mistakes and I am now ready. Ready to bleed green and gold. Ready to bleed for my brothers. Ready to bleed for the people. I will be back playing in October and I will have my eye firmly on the World Cup. I will not let myself or anyone down again. Time to shine!” he said on Instagram last September.

O’Connor played for the Queensland Reds before has final appearance in a golden jersey, a 14-13 win against Argentina in 2013. Since then he has represented London Irish, Toulon and Sale.

However, with so many players set to depart Australian shores over the coming months this may be the perfect time for O’Connor to resurrect his Wallabies career.

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Pocock Eying Career Change Following Test Retirement

Wallabies back-row David Pocock is looking into a possible career change once he fully retires from rugby following his international retirement

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Australian flanker David Pocock has hinted at starting a career in politics come the end of his professional rugby career.

Pocock played his final game for the Wallabies on Saturday in their 40-16 loss to England in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup. With 83 test caps to his name Pocock has become a legend of the game in his homeland and admits that he felt it was time to hang up his boots due to the toll it has taken on his body. 

“It certainly takes its toll. You pick up injuries along the way and some of them linger longer than others. I feel like I’ve put a huge amount into rugby in Australia and I’ve got a lot back in return and really feel like it’s time to move on to other things and contribute in other ways,” he said. 

Pocock will play his rugby with the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan come next year after leaving the Brumbies at the end of the Super Rugby season, but the move he talks of after looks more likely to be in a political capacity rather than that in rugby. 

“I’m interested in a bunch of things outside rugby. The political landscape at the moment is fairly uninspiring when it comes to climate change and those sorts of things, so we’ll wait and see. I’ll have a bit of time to think about it now, then I’ve got the six months in Japan. After that we’ll see. For me, issues around climate change, ecological crisis … there’s plenty to do. I’ll find something and get stuck in. There’s something really special about being part of a group that’s so focused on something bigger than themselves, but I’ll be looking to find that elsewhere,” he added. 

Pocock is a conservationist and human rights campaigner and also holds a Bachelor of Ecological Agricultural Systems degree too meaning the move would make sense should he choose to go down that path. 

However, with Michael Cheika stepping down as Wallabies head coach following Saturday’s loss as well as Pocock departing, the flanker has confirmed that he would be more than happy to help whoever takes up the role with the national side. 

“Mate as a player, you’re happy to. You’re always happy to give your thoughts and opinions. That’s just a little part of the bigger picture of the strategy going forward and how things are going to look in terms of the structure of coaching in Australia,” he finished. 

Whatever Pocock does it is sure to be impressive much like his career to date, although his time in green and gold may be over in a playing capacity it appears as though we are set to see much more of him in the future.

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Cheika Already Lining-Up New Job

Departing Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika is already in talks for a new job according to reports

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Departing Australian head coach Michael Cheika is set to take up a role at French Top 14 outfit Montpellier according to reports.

According to French newspaper Midi Olympique Montpellier have held talks with Cheika as they look to secure him as the club’s director of rugby. 

If the move was to go ahead Cheika would take over from Vern Cotter when his current contract runs out next June. 

The report claims that the club’s president Mohed Altrad would love to bring in Cheika as he believes that he will be a factor in the transfer market as they look to attract players. 

“The Herault business leader would then make a big move in the transfer market, as the aura of the Australo-Lebanese is important on the international scene,” the report stated. 

A move to France would be a perfect fit for Cheika in the eyes of most with the Aussie having spent time in the country during his playing career as well as coaching French outfit Stade Francais previously. 

As well as that he is fluent in French, making communication easy and having raised his family to speak both English and French it seems a natural fit for all involved. 

Cheika announced he would step down from his role with the Wallabies following their 40-16 loss to England in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup on Saturday. Having brought the team all the way to the final of the competition in 2015, Cheika stuck to his word that if they failed to go a step further this time around he would leave after five years at the helm. 

Although many criticized him during his time with the Wallabies his CV speaks for itself as he still remains the only coach to have won the Champions Cup and Super Rugby titles, the northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere’s top competitions respectively. Meaning Montpellier would be bringing in an experienced coach with a winning mentally to help head coach Xavier Garbajosa reach the club’s goals. 

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Former Springbok Hangs Up Boots

A former South African international has called time on his career earlier than he would have hoped

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Former Springboks back-row Heinrich Brussow has announced his retirement from rugby with immediate effect following a series of injuries.

The Northampton Saints player, who has played for the English side 21 times during his two year stint has picked up a number of injuries in recent times and has decided to call time on his career at only 33, but believes it is the right choice. 

“I feel very proud to have represented a Club like Saints which has such a rich history and the passionate support of Northampton behind them. I came to Northampton after spending a long time in Japan, looking for a new challenge and to push myself here in England. But I have been battling injuries for some time now and I have made the very difficult decision to call time on my career,” he said. 

Although his stay at the club was not as long as he would have hoped for he thanked everyone that has supported him over his time in England. 

“I want to say thank you to all of Saints’ loyal supporters who have done nothing but offer encouragement during my time here. I wish I could have pulled on this famous jersey more often for them, but unfortunately injuries have prevented me from doing that. I also have to thank my teammates and all the medical staff at the Club for everything they have done for me, as well as my wife, my family and friends who have been by my side throughout my career – I am truly grateful,” he added. 

Meanwhile the Saints director of rugby Chris Boyd has thanked Brussow for his contribution not only on the pitch but for his help in developing younger players within the squad, most noticeably England’s Lewis Ludlam, who has gone on to star for his country at the Rugby World Cup in Japan. 

“Heinrich is a great rugby player, a great man, and was a complete professional on and off the field. He played in an era of great openside flankers, and at his best he was at the very top of the class. The young loose forwards at Saints, especially Lewis Ludlam, have benefited greatly from him passing on his considerable knowledge to them,” he said. 

Boyd noted how Brussow’s inability to compete at the highest level due to injuries is unfortunate and thanked him for all his work with the Saints. 

“Heinrich has been to the top of the high-performance mountain and seen the view – unfortunately a succession of injuries have prevented him physically from climbing that mountain any longer. The frustration of not being able to consistently perform for himself and for Saints has prompted him to retire, but the decision not to let others down is a true mark of the man. He wants to be able to play at 100 per cent, or not at all. We all thank Heinz for his contribution to Northampton Saints, and wish him and his family all the best for their future,” he added. 

The Boks star had a career that took him around the globe playing for the Cheetahs in Super Rugby, spending five years in Japan, two years with Northampton as well as not only playing for the Springboks but featuring in their three test series against the British and Irish Lions in 2009. 

Known for his work at the breakdown and his ability to score tries from the back-row his loss to the Saints will be felt and it is sad to see such a talent forced to give up so early.

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