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Giteau: O'Connor is mature enough to end his exile

Exiled Australia winger James O'Connor is a reformed character and ready for a return to international rugby in time for next year's World Cup, according to former Wallabies flyhalf Matt Giteau.

O'Connor had his Australian Rugby Union contract torn up last year when he was escorted out of Perth airport by police after a drunken row - the last in a string of disciplinary problems.

A lack of Australian Super Rugby suitors saw the versatile 44-test back head abroad to London Irish and then on to Toulon, where he linked up with former Wallabies Giteau and Drew Mitchell.

"Myself and Drew were probably the first guys to say 'I don't know if we should sign him' because of the guy he was when we left Australia," Giteau said.

"But he's a totally different guy, he's been phenomenal. He trains hard and honestly he's been really good. He's got to do all the right things to get himself in the best position for the World Cup squad, he's a huge talent and a great player. I think he's developed as a person."

O'Connor, who was the second youngest Wallaby in history when he made his test debut as a teenager, will return to Australian rugby next year with the Queensland Reds.

While he will not benefit from the usual contract top-up provided to high profile players by the ARU, Australia coach Michael Cheika said he had monitored O'Connor's form in France and had been impressed.

"He's playing really well," the coach said.

"It's going to be a bonus for us to have guys like that to choose from, no doubt."

Giteau's own 92-test international career ended in acrimonious circumstances when he was left out of the squad for the 2011 World Cup by then coach Robbie Deans.


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