The career of 30 year-old James O’Connor has been an eventful one. Since making his debut at the tender age of 17, O’Connor now approaches his 100th Super Rugby cap when the Reds take on the Blues this weekend.
“I was with the Force playing against the Reds and I came on with about 20 minutes to go and made about four errors in that time so I tried to forget that pretty quickly,” O’Connor said of his debut, which was in the colours of the Western Force.
During a recent interview, O’Connor admitted that he didn’t think he would reach the milestone of 100 Super Rugby caps after stints overseas during his career.
“For a big part of my career I didn’t think I’d get back home to Australia,” he said.
“I’ve been open that I was going to give it one last shot but the thought of retirement definitely played on my mind.
“I put my head down and got to work and I’m enjoying the fruits of my labour and being a part of this group.”
The became the first Australian side to post a victory in the current Super Rugby Trans Tasman competition when they defeated the Chiefs 40-34 in Brisbane last weekend. O’Connor has grown both as a player and a leader in the Queensland outfit and recently signed on with them until after the 2023 World Cup. Asked about what advice he would give to young, professional players starting out, he said:
“Probably just to enjoy the process. It’s not always about the outcome,” O’Connor said.
“When I was younger I was always chasing the next thing, the next milestone, it was always about chasing pleasure so my advice is about enjoying the smaller moments in life.”
Looking ahead to the challenge of the Blues this weekend, O’Connor had the following to say:
“The Blues are on top of the table. They’ve played really well in both Super Rugby Aotearoa and this Trans-Tasman comp,” he said.
“They’re a very physical team and they play exciting footy so for us it’s another great challenge but I know the guys are up for the job.
“We’re starting to feel that flow. It’s a very different dynamic the way Kiwis play and it took us a bit longer for us to adapt.”