James O’Connor’s future in Australian rugby could be in doubt after the Wallabies flyer was reportedly removed from Perth Airport and barred from taking an international flight because he was intoxicated.
The 44-Test winger was not allowed to board his scheduled flight to Bali following the Wallabies’ win over Argentina on Saturday and was escorted from the terminal by Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers.
A statement from AFP to various news outlets said officers: “spoke to a 23-year-old man at Perth International Airport in the early hours of the 15th of September (Sunday)”.
“It is alleged the man was intoxicated. The airline the man was booked to travel with made a decision not to allow him to board the aircraft. The AFP subsequently escorted the man from the terminal.”
It is understood most of the squad flew back to their home states the next morning ahead of a bye week in the Rugby Championship, while O’Connor was booked on an Air Asia flight to Bali with his girlfriend.
The Wallabies fly out of Australia on Saturday for a two-week tour of Argentina and South Africa.
News Limited reported that the ARU launched an investigation into the incident on Sunday but were satisfied with O’Connor’s version of events relayed from Bali.
He had reportedly told the ARU there was a dispute over seating arrangements at the gate which led to O’Connor and his girlfriend being taken back through customs to re-book seats on a later flight.
He allegedly denied being drunk and there was no mention of the AFP.
Currently without a Super Rugby club, O’Connor has been linked to a move back to the Perth-based Western Force, where he first came to prominence.
O’Connor has been involved in several controversies in recent times.
He was dumped from Super Rugby club Melbourne Rebels earlier this year, was photographed at 4am at a fast food outlet in the lead up to a British and Irish Lions Test and has been disciplined or cut from the Test team for missing team meetings.
The 23-year-old had acknowledged that he needed to turn over a new leaf with new Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie who said he’d make it perfectly clear what the expectations were of his players in regards to discipline.
“There’s definitely things that I already have changed and am in the process of doing, personal things,” O’Connor said after McKenzie’s appointment in July.
“I don’t play rugby to be talked about off the field.
“I’m playing rugby because I love it and that’s what I want to be doing, playing for my country.”