James O’Connor will serve as the Queensland Reds’ interim captain this Super Rugby AU season in the latest endorsement of the reformed Wallabies bad boy.

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The playmaker received a raucous round of applause from teammates when the appointment was announced internally after training on Friday.

The Reds are expected to confirm 30-year-old O’Connor’s appointment on Sunday, in the lead-up to Friday’s season opener against the NSW Waratahs in Brisbane.

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Brad Thorn reflects on Reds pre-season clash

He will stand in for injured skipper Liam Wright, who is hopeful of returning for finals but will miss the bulk of the 10-week home and away season with an ankle injury.

It continues a dramatic rise from rugby oblivion for O’Connor, who debuted for the Wallabies as an 18-year-old but twice left Super Rugby for Europe amid drug and alcohol-related mishaps.

Two nights in a Paris jail cell in 2017 proved the line in the sand for the Gold Coast product, who sought a return to Australia and has since re-established himself with the Wallabies and proved his leadership credentials under disciplinarian Reds coach Brad Thorn.

Former All Blacks forward Thorn watched in begrudging admiration as then-teenager O’Connor calmly slotted a conversion of his own try after the siren to beat New Zealand in Hong Kong 11 years ago.

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He no sooner had his Rugby Australia contract torn up, while another brief stint with the Reds in 2015 ended in acrimony.

But, six years on, O’Connor will lead a young side boasting a smattering of emerging Wallabies expected to push for a title.

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