James O'Connor
O'Connor has been banished from Australian rugby.

London Irish new boy James O'Connor says the opportunity to link up with Director of Rugby Brian Smith was too good an opportunity to turn down as he sought a fresh start after his Australian exile.

Banished by the Australian Rugby Union for the remainder of 2013 and unwanted by Melbourne Rebels, O'Connor has moved to the Premiership in order to reignite his attempts to play for his country in the 2015 World Cup.

O'Connor last played for the Wallabies in the Rugby Championship win over Argentina after a woeful Lions series and the 23 year old, capped 44 times by his country, is hoping to revitalise his career at the Madejski Stadium.

"Having decided that I needed a change from both a personal and playing point of view, I spoke to clubs in Japan and France, and concluded that the best way forward for my development was to move to England," O'Connor said.

"Given that I've left my support network back in Australia, London Irish offered me an environment that I felt comfortable with. The club is renowned as a welcoming, family club throughout the world, it has a highly regarded Australian Director of Rugby in Brian Smith and plays a style of rugby that appeals to me.

"In England and Wales they play a very high-pressured, territory based game. I thoroughly believe I can improve elements of my game by playing in the Aviva Premiership."

O'Connor had his ARU contract terminated earlier in October and won't be offered a renewal for 2014 after an incident at Perth Airport which forced him out of the Rugby Championship matches against South Africa and Argentina and has thrown his future Australia career into jeopardy after he "failed to uphold the behavioural and cultural standards expected within the team".

Coach Ewen Mckenzie added: "We won't be forced into making any decisions around his return until I'm satisfied that he can once again contribute positively to what we are trying to achieve as a group.

"The reality is that representing your country is the ultimate honour but also a week-to-week proposition. To be selected, players must consistently do the right things on and off the field.

"We'll continue to assess James on that basis before any team decisions are made about a return."

In O'Connor's absence Quade Cooper and Matt Toomua will lead Australia at fly-half in their five-match northern hemisphere tour which includes a meeting with England this Saturday.

London Irish meanwhile have secured a major coup in securing the services of O'Connnor, the second youngest Australian international in history.

Despite just two wins from their opening six Premiership matches leaving the Exiles languishing seven points off the play-off pace but director of rugby Smith is hoping O'Connor makes an sufficient impact.

"James is a world-class player and a terrific kid and it is fantastic to have him at London Irish. He will bring a huge amount of experience to our group and will fit in well to our style of play.

"He is fit and ready to play so the coaching group will get him up to date on everything and hopefully he'll be ready to go this weekend."

O'Connor is expected to make his London Irish debut against Northampton Saints on Sunday.