Wallaby gets one week ban

2011-08-22 11:15

Sydney – James O’Connor will miss Australia’s Tri-Nations decider against New Zealand after being suspended for missing last week’s World Cup squad announcement, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has said.

The ARU said it had suspended O’Connor until August 28. He has also been given a AUS$10 000 (R75 000) suspended fine for his failure to attend Thursday’s announcement and the accompanying World Cup team photo shoot.

The suspended fine will remain in place until December 31 next year 2012, the ARU said.

The 21-year-old back was asked to provide the ARU with a reason for his non-attendance, but details of the explanation were not released to the media.

O’Connor was reportedly spotted at one or two hotels the night before the squad announcement.
He publicly apologised yesterday and said he had let down his team and Australian rugby.

“I just want to express my regret as this is such an important event for the Wallabies and I would like to apologise to all the fans and my teammates,” he told reporters.

“I let myself down, I let the fans down and I guess all the Wallabies down and the ARU as well.
It’s a massive event (World Cup squad naming) and one that only comes around every four years.”

The Wallabies’ team for the Tri-Nations decider against the All Blacks in Brisbane on Saturday will be announced tomorrow.

O’Connor’s disciplinary breach has handed centre Anthony Faingaa a big World Cup audition in the Tri-Nations decider.

Reports said today Faingaa is likely to be the chief beneficiary with a promotion to outside centre, with Adam Ashley-Cooper shifting to O’Connor’s right wing.

Hooker Stephen Moore, speaking before the ARU decision, admitted a ban for O’Connor would hurt the Wallabies’ prospects of ending their 10-year Tri-Nations drought.

“We’d love to have James playing on the weekend,” Moore told reporters.

“He’s an important part of our team, that’s for sure, on the field. You’d rather have him on the field than not.”

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