sport

McKenzie: O'Connor on my mind

Ewen McKenzie has not turned his back on James O'Connor after admitting the door is still open for the versatile back to return to the Australia side in the future.

A series of well-publicised misdemeanours led to O'Connor having his central contract with the Wallabies torn-up last year but, at the age of 23, he remains in the mind of national coach McKenzie.

And the media back in Australia have speculated that he is close to signing a deal with Super Rugby team the Queensland Reds.

McKenzie told a national newspaper: "He has got X-factor. He can make things happen in attack. He is a very tidy player.

\"He can do all the fundamentals of the game and he is a very good goal-kicker. He is a pretty complete player and very experienced.

\"He's got 40-something tests at his young age. If he keeps the same rate of progress he will easily go over the 100 mark. That's the challenge. He has to resurrect all that."

O'Connor has recently played for London Irish but McKenzie says he is keeping tabs on the talented back.

He added: "We have kept in touch. I'm not closing the door on him at all. He wasn't giving us what we needed.

\"He has gone away and is trying to right his wrongs and change his life a bit.

"The conversations I've had he has certainly expressed interest in coming back. It is not going to surprise me if he comes back but it is up to him to organise it."