Exiles given O’Connor boost

London Irish (20/1 – Amlin Challenge Cup outright) will be hoping the signing of Australian star James O’Connor will turn their fortunes around after a poor start to the season.

The Exiles currently sit in 10th place in the Aviva Premiership table after losing 13-11 to Newcastle Falcons in their last outing on Sunday and director of rugby Brian Smith has decided to strengthen his side with the signing of O’Connor.

Having had a somewhat turbulent spell in his career, with off-field incidents seeing him dropped from the Australia squad last month, the 23-year-old has decided to leave his homeland to play in England.

O’Connor was confirmed as an Exiles player on Tuesday and the youngster, who can play in most positions along the backline, is looking forward to getting started at the Madejski Stadium having signed a deal until the end of the season.

He said: “Having decided that I needed a change from both a personal and playing point of view, I spoke to clubs in Japan and France, and concluded that the best way forward for my development was to move to England.

“Given that I’ve left my support network back in Australia, London Irish offered me an environment that I felt comfortable with.

“The club is renowned as a welcoming, family club throughout the world, it has a highly regarded Australian director of rugby in Brian Smith and plays a style of rugby that appeals to me.”

O’Connor will be looking to make his Premiership debut when London Irish host high-flying Northampton Saints (3/1 – Aviva Premiership Grand Final outright) on Sunday.

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