James O’Connor reveals the top 14 clubs he would consider playing for!

James O’Connor reveals the top 14 clubs he would consider playing for!

Australian international James O’Connor did not play in the World Cup for the Wallabies.

However, the latter was able to attend some matches.

I asked via Olympic middayHe returned in particular to the stadium seat he offered to a young fan, in front of the Stade de France, for the opening match of the World Cup. Extracts:

I flew to Paris with players from Australia A and the Barbarians. I also went to see Australia-Georgia with them, but Sebastien, a French friend, gave me a ticket to see France-New Zealand. I was so excited but he was late… I was with some of his French friends and we saw Leno and his father. They were upset. We talked and they explained that they had come by train from Toulouse especially for this match, but one of the thieves had sold them fake tickets. I asked Sebastian if he could do me a favor and give his ticket to this kid who was so excited to be able to attend this meeting.

He recounts this extraordinary moment. Extracts:

At first he was very shy. His father knew who I was. That’s why I think he agreed to invite his son to watch the meeting with me. Leno didn’t know me, but on the field, Frenchmen, Australians and New Zealanders came to talk to me, and others to take pictures. He found it funny. So he asked me where I was playing. I told him I had played at Toulon and for the Wallabies, and that I was still close to being selected. He was shocked. When I told him my name, he was really shocked. It was funny. After that we had a great time at the playground. We watched the match, had interesting conversations and became friends. He’s a good kid.

Then he analyzed the Blues’ victory during this match. Extracts:

The French team showed in this match that it is among the candidates to win the title. They outplayed the All Blacks. They knew how to make the most of every opportunity they got, and they were decisive. When I watched the All Blacks, I wasn’t under the impression that they were bad, but rather that their game plan was not one I would choose to play against France. I had the impression that France were denying them the ball and the New Zealanders couldn’t get into the game. Then DuPont being DuPont, he can do incredible things…

He does not fail to praise Antoine Dupont in the process. Extracts:

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He is the general of the team, he can create something out of nothing. His kicking game is brilliant! His ability to move and execute attacking kicks is crucial. France certainly have other players who can play well with their feet like Thomas Ramos, but Dupont can make a difference at any time. Hence, it is a bit like Ireland without Sexton: they are not a bad team, but the presence of these players gives confidence to their partners. After that, World Cup rugby was different. It’s all about the territory and not literally messing around.

He also analyzed Mathieu Jalibert’s performance. Extracts:

I’ve been watching him play for a long time and seen his progress. When he started out, he did incredible things, but also some stupid things, he overplayed the game a little bit. Today, even when it’s not a great day, he limits his mistakes. He’s almost finished his game, maintaining that level of creativity, which is huge. From what I’ve seen at this World Cup, he’s an exciting player to watch and finds the right balance to set the tone of the game. But in the final stage, the matches are different and some great players were not able to perform at this level. I’m especially thinking of very offensive tens, like Carlos Spencer. In 2003, the All Blacks were on a losing streak, losing to Australia in the semi-finals. I remember asking my father: “Why don’t they crush the opponent like they did just two games ago?” He explained to me that every gesture can be decisive, whether positive or negative. I also remember Michalak beating the All Blacks in 2007 and eliminating that great New Zealand team in the quarter-finals.

James O’Connor was particularly impressed by the match between South Africa and Ireland. Extracts:

Man, that was bloody! It was a good game, with rugby in all its glory. For me, this is a huge improvement on World Rugby because you have to play, attack and create now to win. In 2019, during the World Cup, the teams that won were the ones who did not have the ball and more than kicked, which in my opinion was not a great advertisement for our sport.

Viewers don’t want to watch that, it’s boring. The goal is not to leave the ball to your opponent while you wait for the other to do something stupid. Instead of kicking, South Africa tried to carry the ball, even from their 22, something you wouldn’t see from them before, as they stuck to just kicking the ball out of the park in the traditional way. And in my opinion, Ireland also attacked for 80 minutes. This match was worth waking up early for. I woke up at four o’clock to see him. I was so happy to hear the alarm clock that got me out of bed and I feel tired during the day after seeing this!

In the process, James O’Connor talked about his physical appearance. Extracts:

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I’m in a good state! I was about to play in the World Cup with the Wallabies, and I was a reserve midfielder and fly-half. I played for Australia A against Tonga and Portugal. You’ve also been touring with Barbarians over the last few weeks in the UK. I feel like I’ve never been better! But it’s different than when I was young and playing on the wing or in defence. Now that I play both jumper and linebacker, I understand the game better, and I’ve progressed. I like to watch the way each team plays. I love watching players, like Jalibert, how they adapt their style of play, how they progress, how they can change their mentality. I suffered a serious injury in 2021, and it took a long time to recover and get back in shape. I’ve been good for maybe the last five months, and it was very difficult for the World Cup.

It indicates that he exchanged with Eddie Jones. Extracts:

I did part of the preparation with the selection when the group was expanded. My discussion with him was positive, but he was clear: he built his team on youth rather than experience. He wanted to change mentalities in Australian rugby. But I really liked the training camp and the way Eddie Jones trained. Obviously I would have appreciated it more if he had made me play because I think I could have helped the team with my experience and vision of the game. But I wasn’t far from doing it, that’s all. That’s why he was with Australia A and the Barbarians. If there was an injury with the Wallabies, I was already in Europe and could get there quickly.

With experience, you know how to manage matches and recover from defeat. But youth brings you energy, they are unconditional and do not care about the past. In the end, the coach is the one who makes the team

He clearly regrets the Australians’ poor performance. Extracts:

I had a hard time watching the Australia vs. Fiji match and the Wales match because I could see things that seemed obvious to me that we could change and fix. The groups may not have been in sync. There were several wounded. Eddie didn’t have much time to change the team.

According to him, Australia should take inspiration from France in the next World Cup. Extracts:

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Of course Australia should take inspiration from France! When you look at the players and resources we have, we will undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with in 2027! We will be in the top four in the next World Cup if we work well and make the right decisions. Because when you look at our team, the stuff left at home and the OP there is potential. In this team, we see that there are players who are not the best players in the world, but they are at international level, and many other countries want them. So when they get a little older, when they have more experience, when they have more team experience, there will be a great team.

It took the French four years to develop and build their game, and now they don’t even need to talk to each other on the pitch, they play together instinctively. It’s no longer just individuals, it’s a team. Australian rugby should aim to achieve this. There will be a Lions Tour in 2025 and then a World Cup, which I’m sure the Australians will react to. They don’t want to lose to their fans.

In conclusion, James O’Connor discusses his potential return to the top 14. He cites two clubs. Extracts:

Good question ! never say never. But if I come back, it will be for a team like Toulouse or La Rochelle, a team that is playing for the title. Playing in Toulon was an honor for us, we were European champions. There were only great players! I learned a lot, it was a great experience. This is probably the most exciting game of rugby I have ever played. So, for me to come back to France, it has to be the right time and the right team. I also feel like the top 14 players didn’t get to see the best version of myself because I was still a kid at the time. If you come back, you will see France as a better rugby player!

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