LONDON - James O'Connor will begin his bid for a Wallabies return in Britain but Australian coach Ewen McKenzie stresses he needs to be playing Super Rugby next year to be considered for a recall.
The sacked Wallabies star has travelled to the UK to join London Irish, with the English rugby union club set to officially announce his signing at 10am yesterday.
While the terms of his contract are not yet known, utility back O'Connor on Monday appeared to confirm it would be short term, saying on Twitter he was "London bound for a few months to play some rugby".
McKenzie was coy on his feelings over the move, hinting he might have preferred the talented 23-year-old to remain in Australia to deal with the behavioural issues which led to his Australian Rugby Union contract being terminated.
The coach, in London ahead of the Wallabies' clash with England at Twickenham on Saturday, said it was crucial O'Connor returned to Australia next season if he was serious about a recall.
"He's got to be playing Super Rugby in Australia to be in the mix," said McKenzie, who did not know any details about the move.
"In the end, I'll just watch Super Rugby next year and invest time in the five teams and the players there. The ones that are eligible to play are the ones I'll be choosing from."
O'Connor was axed earlier this month after a disciplinary investigation found he had failed to "uphold the behavioural and cultural standards expected within the team".
It came after an incident in which he was escorted from Perth Airport for drunken behaviour, the morning after he played on the wing in the Wallabies' Rugby Championship win against Argentina.