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'I wasn't in the best shape': James O'Connor lifts lid on Wallabies comeback

(Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

Edinburgh is a special place for Wallabies playmaker James O’Connor, who says it’s where he made the decision to attempt an unlikely career comeback.


O’Connor is back in the Scottish capital and is set to be named at No 10 later on Friday for the Wallabies, who take on Scotland at Murrayfield on Monday morning (AEDT).

The test is surprisingly his first in 10 years against a Six Nations team in the UK, last lining up against Wales in 2011.

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After landing himself in a French jail for two nights when he was found in possession of cocaine in early 2017, O’Connor made the call to start over.

This week he returned to a rugged hill overlooking Edinburgh and posted a series of raw videos and photos of the beginning of that journey, saying it was “a trip down memory lane”.

A notably out of shape O’Connor is seen struggling to complete a drill.

“Where I had my first session after my third ankle surgery and decided I was going to make a comeback and take footy seriously again,” the 31-year-old posted on his Instagram story.


“As you can see I wasn’t in the best shape, struggling to do a few movement drills.

“March 2018 I drew a line in the sand.”

Impressing at the Reds, O’Connor earned a recall to the Wallabies in 2019 and has played 14 tests since.

Following the withdrawal of Quade Cooper as well as blockbusting centre Samu Kerevi, he looms as a key to extending the Wallabies’ winning run to six matches.


The line-up may feature the return of giant lock Will Skelton, who last played a test five years ago.

Skelton, who plays in France, is one of six European-based players in coach Dave Rennie’s Wallabies squad.

Second-rower Rory Arnold, hooker Tolu Latu and also veteran back Kurtley Beale are also putting their hand up for selection although they are considered less likely.

Scotland thumped Australia 53-24 – a record score and margin – in their most recent test at Murrayfield in 2017 which ended a three-game winning streak by the Wallabies.


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