Toulon to suspend O'Connor

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 19:54
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NEWS: Toulon will suspend Australian international James O'Connor after Paris police charged him with possession of cocaine, the Top 14 club's President said Monday.

French police on Sunday charged former All Black Ali Williams with buying cocaine and O'Connor with possession of the drug.

The pair were arrested at 03.00am (02.00 GMT) on Saturday outside a nightclub near the Champs Elysees in possession of 2.4 grams (0.08 ounces) of the substance.

O'Connor is due back in Toulon later Monday, club president Mourad Boudjellal saying he would await talks with the utility back before making a final decision on his sanction. Racing 92 imposed an indefinite ban on Williams.

"It's tough to defend him. We'll talk about it with him," Boudjellal said of O'Connor. "He's a 26-year-old kid, I'm neither there to destroy him nor support him. It's complicated."

O'Connor's contract with Toulon comes to an end at the end of the season, Boudjellal confirming that his deal would not be extended.

"When you're under the influence of alcohol, you rarely shine. For James, I blame it more on distress than stupidity. We'll look after him. 

"I know there are things to sort out, but it's not cocaine that will do it for him," he said.

Boudjellal also voiced his concerns that cocaine had become commonplace in players' post-match festivities.

"It's only my opinion, but I have the impression that in certain clubs and among many players, coke is very popular," he said.

"We've had the alcohol stage, now we're at another one. We can't support that. That needs to stop."

O'Connor's run-in with Paris police is the latest off-field digression for a player who made his Wallabies debut at the age of 18 and has gone on to win 44 caps.

He was infamously banned from boarding a plane in Perth shortly after his last Test, against Argentina in 2013, later apologising for the drunken incident.

O'Connor decided to move to England where he played for London Irish before joining Toulon in 2014.

The 26-year-old headed home to join Reds in a bid to boost his chances of being selected for the Wallabies for the 2015 World Cup.

But he missed the cut for Michael Cheika's squad and exercised an early-release clause that saw him head back to Toulon.

Agence France-Presse