James O'Connor playing against the All Blacks in 2013. Picture: Getty
James O'Connor playing against the All Blacks in 2013. Picture: Getty

Wallaby bad boy pleads for World Cup chance

DESPERATE times call for desperate measures so if Michael Cheika is really serious about a finding a way to inspire his misfiring Wallabies, maybe he should just follow the lead of James O'Connor and stick them all in the deep freeze for a while.

As crazy as it sounds, O'Connor's radical approach seems to be paying off for the former Wallaby bad boy who reckons he's finally seen the light after completing a bizarre training course in Iceland.

Now based in France after being punted by the Wallabies in 2013 because of his non-stop partying, O'Connor posted a series of pictures of himself on social media while he was at a training centre in the Nordics that involved deep meditation and depriving himself of basic senses.

"Coming to the end of my training camp in Iceland and it has been a humbling and truly enlightening experience," he posted on his Instagram page.

"I have been pushed into some very uncomfortable situations by @saviourworld through the use of sensory deprivation, heat exhaustion and deep states of meditation.

"My reaction to each stimulus has forced me to face myself and my darkness in a way that I have never felt before."

James O'Connor in action for French club Toulon.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
James O'Connor in action for French club Toulon. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images) Dan Mullan

After losing five of their seven Tests this year, the Wallabies can probably relate to O'Connor's darkness but the 28-year-old said it had reinforced his desire to make amends for his past mistakes.

A Test player at the age of 18, O'Connor seemed to have the world at his feet but couldn't keep out of trouble off the paddock. He chalked up 44 Test caps by the age of 23 but officials grew tired of his off-field behaviour and he was cut.

"I now know who I was but more importantly, I now see who I must become. It is time for me to share my truth. I have a deep desire to play for the Wallabies again," O'Connor said.

"I have learnt from my mistakes and I am now ready. Ready to bleed green and gold. Ready to bleed for my brothers. Ready to bleed for the people."

 

A young James O'Connor during a Wallabies training run.
A young James O'Connor during a Wallabies training run.

As wacky as that all sounds, maybe O'Connor's desperation is just what the Wallabies need after lurching from one disaster to the next all season.

Cheika, who has been facing increasing criticism after his team's run of losses, is becoming increasingly exasperated at the inability of players to get the basics right with just 12 months to go before the next World Cup.

Although there were some moments of individual brilliance, Saturday's performance against the Pumas was riddled with sloppy errors, with players missing simple one-on-one tackles, taking their eyes off the ball and letting it him in the head, shanking kicks into touch, missing lineout throws, losing possession, and crucially, failing to throw a simple pass at the end that would have won the game.

"I will be back playing in October and I will have my eye firmly on the World Cup," O'Connor said. "I will not let myself or anyone down again. Time to shine!"

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