Wallaby door open for O Connor
Wallaby door open for O'Connor

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie says James O'Connor's inter- national future is in his own hands after the wayward star's announcement he was seeking absolution in time for next year's World Cup.

McKenzie said O'Connor's 44 Wallabies appearances would count in his favour, but he would be battling with players making their push during the Wallabies' 14 Tests this year.

O'Connor also has to clinch a deal with an Australian Super Rugby club to qualify for the Wallabies.

His best chance is with Western Force, but the club has made it clear a union would be strictly on its terms after he turned down its offer last year to join English premiership club London Irish.

Force coach Michael Foley said he only wanted players who were committed to the club.

"We are not going to be a stop- over point for people who have other goals and are not focused on the ones we have at the club," Foley said.

"As long as we find a player that buys into that, then we'll be open-minded and we'll discuss it.

"That's where we stand, keeping in mind that stability is going to be a key thing."

McKenzie, who joined Foley at training yesterday, said he had spoken to O'Connor several times in the past few months.

"In the end he's making a decision that he wants to come back. If that's the decision, then terrific, and we'll see how that unfolds," McKenzie said.

"He's got to get back. The requirements are pretty clear.

"It's up to him. The ball's in his court."

There are only four Tests in 2015 before the World Cup in England in September and McKenzie said a lot of selections would hinge on this season.

"It will get down to performance this year, to be honest," McKenzie said.

"For people to push their cause and their barrow, this is the year to get it done, but the one thing James O'Connor has got up his sleeve is that he's played Test match football and plenty of it."

O'Connor said he still harboured a desire to play international rugby.

"I've been very open about the fact I want to go back to Australia so I can play in the World Cup," he told the BBC.

"Playing for my country is what I always wanted to do.

"I'm in touch with everyone back home, players and coaches.

“It’s on the move but it is a long way off and there are still a lot of hurdles to jump over. It’s not a given, it’s a goal.”

O’Connor’s management will open talks with the ARU and Super franchises but he will also try and negotiate a short term contract in Europe that would take him through to the end of the year. London Irish coach Brian Smith has already said he would be happy to keep him.

The West Australian

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