SALE SHARKS HAVE granted James O’Connor an early release from his contract as the Wallaby returns home to pursue his World Cup ambitions.
The 28-year-old, who spent two seasons at Premiership outfit Sale, has signed a long-term deal with Rugby Australia and is reportedly set to join Super Rugby side Queensland Reds.
A move home puts O’Connor back in the frame for international selection ahead of this year’s World Cup, with the back winning the last of his 44 Test caps in 2013.
After spells with London Irish and Toulon, O’Connor joined Sale on a three-year deal ahead of the 2017/18 campaign, but now leaves a year ahead of schedule with the blessing of Steve Diamond.
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“James returns to Australia with the Clubs full blessing, he is an exceptional talent and we will be sorry to see him go, but he has a dream to play for his country again and I will never block anybody’s opportunity to do that, especially at a World Cup,” Sale’s director of rugby said.
O’Connor added: “I will be forever grateful to Steve Diamond, all the players and coaches, and the Sale Sharks supporters who have all helped facilitate my journey back to full power.”