O’Connor suspended after meeting with Toulon owner
Australian international James O’Connor was temporarily suspended by his club Toulon on Tuesday after he was busted with cocaine in Paris.
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 3am on Saturday outside a nightclub near the Champs Elysees in possession of 2.4 grams (0.08 ounces) of the substance.
O’Connor met on Tuesday with outspoken Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal, who had stressed that he would await talks with the utility back before making a final decision on his sanction. Racing 92 imposed an indefinite ban on Williams.
“Following talks, James O’Connor is temporarily suspended until a next meeting which will take place within eight days,” Toulon said in a statement.
Boudjellal warned on Monday that O’Connor’s case was “complicated”, and it might affect his contract renewal negotiations.
The Australian’s deal with the French giants finishes at the end of this season.
O’Connor’s run-in with Paris police is the latest off-field digression for an outstanding 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 which also saw him removed from the airport.
“He’s a 26-year-old kid, I’m neither there to destroy him nor support him. It’s complicated,” Boudjellal said earlier this week.
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.”