Eddie Jones: Wallabies no better for O'Connor

Last updated 14:24 28/06/2014
James O'Connor
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TROUBLED: James O'Connor wants to play for Australia again.
Eddie Jones
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Former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones.

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Australia were not ''appreciably better'' with James O'Connor in the side and struggling Super Rugby team Queensland should look elsewhere in their recruiting, according to former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones.

Former Western Force and Melbourne Rebels back O'Connor is tipped to play for the Reds next season in a bid to revive his 44-test Wallabies career, which stalled last year when he was kicked out of the team for a string of off-field incidents.

He has bided his time in Europe with a stint for London Irish in the English Premiership and also signed a deal to play with Toulon, the French giants announced in February.

Since winning the 2011 Super Rugby championship under Ewen McKenzie, now head coach of the Wallabies, the Reds have fallen on hard times under Richard Graham, and will miss the playoffs this season.

''As good a player as O'Connor is, he has no track record for making his teams win,'' Jones said in comments published on News Ltd websites.

''The Western Force, Melbourne Rebels and London Irish were low end of the table teams and the Wallabies were not appreciably improved with O'Connor in the ranks.

''He is a fantastic, instinctive runner and kicks goals so he does clearly have plusses.

''The Reds have enough small players which gets back to my recruitment point that they badly need some effective size.''

The Reds have struggled to replace powerful back-rower Scott Higginbotham after his move to the Rebels in 2013, and a number of players, including Wallabies Dom Shipperley and Mike Harris, have confirmed their departures at the end of the season.

Jones said the Reds should look to rebuild by recruiting a game-breaking forward like the New South Wales Waratahs' South African import Jacques Potgieter.

''They continually chat about the trophy of 2011 with justified pride but it's time to move on and develop a new team to challenge for silverware,'' said Jones, who coached the Canberra-based ACT Brumbies to the 2001 Super Rugby title, but also presided over one disastrous season with the Reds in 2007.

''Richard Graham is a fine, young coach with good values.

''He can now recruit the players he needs and I'm sure he has been working at that behind the scenes.

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''Every crisis brings an opportunity and this one is for Graham to put his mark on the squad and show us some shrewd recruits.''

- Reuters

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