Tuesday 20 February 2018

James O'Connor snaps at reporters over burger bar incident

Australia star James O'Connor
Australia star James O'Connor

James O'Connor's late night visit to a fast food restaurant with team mate Kurtley Beale had not distracted the Wallabies camp or impacted on the team's preparations for the second test in Melbourne, the Australia back said today.

A photograph of O'Connor and Beale posing with a rugby fan at a fast food outlet at nearly four in the morning on Wednesday was splashed across global websites and generated international headlines in the leadup to Saturday's test at Docklands Stadium.

The incident earned the playmaking duo a dressing down from coach Robbie Deans and senior team mates said further discipline would be handled in-house after the test, which the Wallabies won 16-15 to level the three-match series 1-1.

O'Connor, however, said the matter was "done and dusted" and attempted to draw a line under it after making a brief statement to reporters on Sunday.

"Kurtley and myself made the news this week. We've spoken to Robbie and we've spoken to the players in our team and although  we didn't break protocol or anything like that, it was a lack of judgement on our behalf and it's not ideal preparation in a test week," O'Connor said at a luxury hotel in Melbourne, with his coach Deans and Beale sitting beside him.

"It won't happen again and we'll be better for it. But as far as we're concerned it's a closed issue now."

O'Connor's hopes that the matter would be finished were soon dashed as reporters queued up to demand more details from the 22-year-old, who quickly grew tired of the line of questioning.

"We spoke about that earlier, no more questions on that. Let's talk about rugby," O'Connor snapped at a reporter.

"It didn't impact on the week at all. Preparations were as usual. We didn't let it, sort of, become a distraction.

"Error of judgement, like I said. You've got to be smarter than that."

Neither O'Connor nor Beale, already under massive scrutiny amid troubles with alcohol and a stint at private health clinic last month, were punished at the selection table and both were named in the starting side to play the Lions in Melbourne.

Both made telling contributions in the Wallabies' tight win, with flyhalf O'Connor putting centre Adam Ashley-Cooper through for the match-winning try in the final minutes.

Fullback Beale, who struggled with his field kicking at times but proved a handful for the Lions defence in the tense second half, later said he had not felt any concern he had endangered his selection for the match in Melbourne.

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