Rugby Australia has today announced former dual international Michael O’Connor as a Qantas Wallabies selector.
O’Connor will join Qantas Wallabies Head Coach, Michael Cheika and incoming Director of Rugby, Scott Johnson to form a three-person National Selection Panel as part of restructuring of the Rugby Australia High Performance environment announced in December 2018.
Queensland-based O’Connor has an extensive background in talent identification and coaching and was previously engaged as an independent selector with the Wallabies from 2006-2007.
The 12-Test Qantas Wallabies centre who went on to become a great in Rugby League with Manly, New South Wales and Australia, returned to Rugby following an illustrious playing career across both codes and coached the Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens team for seven years from 2008 to 2014.
Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle said: “We interviewed a number of quality candidates for the role and it was Michael’s approach and philosophy around selection that really stood out.
“He brings to the table immense experience in talent identification as well as the perspective of having played at the highest levels and coached at international level and has performed a similar role for the Wallabies in the past.
“We believe Michael’s skills will complement the skills of both Michael Cheika and Scott Johnson and create a very open and challenging selection environment in an important year for the Wallabies.”
Michael O’Connor said: “I’ve gained a lot of different perspectives in over 20 years of involvement in Rugby at a local, national and international level and I feel privileged to be able to take on this role as a national selector. I’ve got a great passion for the Wallabies and I’m not taking this opportunity lightly, it’s a huge honour.
“I’m very much looking forward to working with Michael Cheika and Scott Johnson. I have worked with Johnno before with the Wallabies back in 2007 and while I haven’t worked with Michael previously I have followed his teams very closely throughout the years and I think I’ve got a very good understanding of how he likes his team to play.
“The most important thing in this role is understanding what the Head Coach is looking for, the way he wants to play and then finding the players that fit into that framework and having that discussion.
“I’m sure there will be some different ideas and perspectives thrown into the mix, and at the end of the day, we all just want to see the Wallabies be successful.”
O’Connor will begin in the role on March 21 and will continue to be based on the Sunshine Coast. A formal media opportunity will be set for when he visits Rugby Australia headquarters in Sydney next week.