Dual international Michael O’Connor has been announced as a new Wallabies selector, joining coach Michael Cheika and director of rugby Scott Johnson.
He will join coach Michael Cheika and incoming director of rugby Scott Johnson in the role as part of Rugby Australia’s high performance restructure announced late last year following the Wallabies’ worst year since 1958 with just four wins from 13 Tests.
Queensland-based O’Connor was previously an independent selector with the Wallabies from 2006-2007.
The 58-year-old played 12 Tests for the Wallabies before becoming a rugby league great with Manly, NSW and Australia.
He returned to rugby and coached the Australian men’s sevens team for seven years from 2008 to 2014.
“I’ve gained a lot of different perspectives in over 20 years of involvement in rugby at a local, national and international level and I feel privileged to be able to take on this role as a national selector,” O’Connor said via a statement.
“I’m very much looking forward to working with Michael Cheika and Scott Johnson.
“I have worked with ‘Johnno’ before with the Wallabies back in 2007 and while I haven’t worked with Michael previously I have followed his teams very closely throughout the years and I think
I’ve got a very good understanding of how he likes his team to play.
“I’m sure there will be some different ideas and perspectives thrown into the mix, and at the end of the day, we all just want to see the Wallabies be successful.”
O’Connor’s believed to have won the role ahead of John Connolly, Andrew Slack and Michael Foley.
Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle said O’Connor’s “approach and philosophy around selection” stood out.
“He brings to the table immense experience in talent identification as well as the perspective of having played at the highest levels and coached at international level and has performed a similar role for the Wallabies in the past,” she said.
“We believe Michael’s skills will complement the skills of both Michael Cheika and Scott Johnson and create a very open and challenging selection environment in an important year for the Wallabies.”
O’Connor will begin in the role on March 21.
RA is still to fill two vacancies in the Wallabies fold following the axing of assistant coach Stephen Larkham and departure of head of athletic preparation Haydn Masters.
They will be filled following Johnson’s arrival at the completion of his commitment with the Scottish Rugby Union at the end of their Six Nations campaign.