Queensland Reds captain Liam Wright has hailed the maturity and dedication of one-time Australian rugby wild child James O’Connor.
Five-eighth O’Connor kicked a match-winning pair of penalties as the Reds ended a seven-year, 11-game losing streak against the NSW Waratahs in last weekend’s launch of Super Rugby AU.
Armed with a new mindset since his return to Australia, O’Connor turning 30 on Sunday had given him a further chance to reflect on his career, according to Wright.
“From what I watched growing up of James O’Connor he’s a completely different person,” Wright said.
“He’s a really good fellow to be around. He’s a leader in our group.
An ex-Wallabies midfielder has described re-capturing the signature of Waratahs flyer Jack Maddocks as "one of the great priorities" in Australian rugby.https://t.co/qg2nSJ4sLm
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 7, 2020
“He puts a lot of time into his craft which I think upon reflection on his 30th birthday, that’s what he sort of figured out was missing from earlier years.
“He just invests a lot into himself, into this team and I think the results are starting to show really well.”
The Reds will get their first taste of fly-in, fly-out life this Friday when they head to Sydney to play the Melbourne Rebels, who are exiled from Victoria due to that state’s worsening COVID-19 outbreak.
Wright said while the experience of flying in, playing a match and then flying home would be a different one, he was hopeful it wouldn’t faze his group.
“A lot of our boys have come through the club footy system, which is kind of similar, you don’t have all the luxuries before and after you’re just going there to play footy and enjoy that,” he said.
“We’re really looking forward to getting back to basics like that.”
Wright confirmed lock Angus Blyth was on track to take on the Rebels after copping a head knock in the win over the Waratahs.
“Blythie past all his HIAs and is roaring to go this week,” Wright said.
– Ed Jackson
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