Wayward winger in hot water after getting drunk in an airport bar.
Wallabies captain James Horwill said he supported the decision to dump controversial winger James O’Connor midway through the Rugby Championship, saying it was for the good of the team.
O’Connor, 23, was stood down from the Wallabies squad on Friday, with the Australian Rugby Union investigating an incident at a Perth airport a week ago in which he was allegedly prevented from taking a flight because he was drunk.
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said O’Connor had failed “to demonstrate and uphold the behavioural and cultural standards expected within the team” and would not travel on the Wallabies’ two-week tour to South Africa and Argentina. McKenzie did though say the winger had “made incremental improvements”.
Only a month ago O’Connor vowed to change his ways in a bid to keep his Wallaby jersey, following a string of disciplinary issues including him being spotted out in the early hours in the week of the second Test against the British and Irish Lions.
“I fully support Ewen’s decision and I guess it’s for the best of the team,” Horwill told Australian Associated Press.
“That’s what we’re about, the team comes first in these situations.”
Horwill, who is confident he will be fit for the September 29 match against South Africa after suffering a recent hamstring strain, said he hoped O’Connor could reach his potential.
“He’s got to make that realisation and understand what’s important to him and what he wants to do with his rugby going forward,” Horwill said.
“Hopefully it is a moment where he understands that he might need to change something to get the best out of himself.”
The captain said Australia had to build on its win against Argentina last weekend, a one-point victory which came after the Wallabies lost their first two matches against New Zealand and another game against South Africa.
“We obviously didn’t play our best rugby and we’re happy to admit that,” Horwill said of the 14-13 win over Argentina.
“But we need to build from that and we can’t go backwards from where we are.”