The redemptive arc of James O’Connor’s Queensland Reds return will hit new heights this Saturday if he can guide his team to glory in the Super Rugby AU grand final against the Brumbies.
After an acrimonious exit from the Reds and Australian rugby in 2015, O’Connor’s return to Ballymore has largely been about proving his worth to his home state.
With a new outlook on life, O’Connor has spoken at length about how determined he was to write some happier chapters to his Reds’ story upon his return.
Ending his first campaign back in Australia with a trophy would be a triumph most Hollywood script writers would delight in.
“My mind’s firmly on getting the job done,” O’Connor said.
“Obviously the Brumbies have been top of the table, they’re a great team and they’ve probably been the form team. We know what we have to do and we want to go down there and just finish it off.
“… there was quite a bit of unfinished business before I came back this year. So, it means a lot to us and for me in particular.”
After starting the year in a variety of backline roles, the 30-year-old is now firmly established as the Reds’ five-eighth.
The 52-test player has been a utility throughout his career but believes he has found a home in the No.10 jersey, a stance confirmed by Wallabies coach Dave Rennie hinting earlier this month it will be O’Connor’s role for Australia later this year.
“The first couple games I was very nervous because I hadn’t played 10 in a long time and I didn’t feel I had a complete game to sort of get there,” O’Connor said, admitting it wasn’t until the Reds played South African franchise the Bulls in April that he found his feet in the position.
“The Bulls is sort of, when my mindset shifted, and I started playing as a 10, instead of as a 12 playing at 10.
“The fact that we’re sort of in the finals and have the ability to lift up the trophy in a couple of days’ time – we’re here and we’re excited.”
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