Michael O'Connor (rugby)

Michael O'Connor (rugby)
Michael O'Connor
Personal information
Full name Michael David O'Connor
Nickname Snoz
Born 1 February 1960 (1960-02-01) (age 51)
Nowra, New South Wales, Australia
Playing information
Rugby union
Position Wing
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1682–80 Canberra Royals
1981–82 Brisbane Norths
Total 0 0 0 0 0
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1979–82 Australia 13 13
Rugby league
Position Centre, Wing
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1983–86 St George Dragons 78 33 130 9 401
1987–92 Manly-Warringah 115 54 179 2 576
1988–89 St. Helens 18 7 7 0 42
Total 211 94 316 11 1019
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1985–90 Australia 17 17 61 0 190
1985–91 New South Wales 19 11 42 1 129
Source: Yesterday's Hero saints.org.uk

Michael David O'Connor (born 1 February 1960 in Nowra, New South Wales) is a former rugby league and rugby union footballer who represented Australia in both codes, in other words a dual-code rugby international. He played for the Wallabies in 13 Tests from 1979 to 1982 and then the Kangaroos in 17 Tests from 1985 to 1990. O'Connor played club football in the NSWRL Premiership for the St. George Dragons and later the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, becoming captain of the latter and winning the 1987 Winfield Cup with them.


Playing career

Rugby union

O'Connor was superb centre who possessed an array of natural talents and established a host of point scoring records at Test level. Originally from Canberra he toured with the Australian Rugby Union Schoolboys in 1977 alongside the likes of the Ella brothers and Wally Lewis. His club rugby career was with the Canberra Royals, then Teachers Brisbane.

He was first selected for the Wallabies in 1979, a few months ahead of Mark Ella and other of O'Connor's prodigiously talented teammates from the 1977 Australian Schoolboys side such as Tony Melrose, Michael Hawker and Glen and Gary Ella. With a number of those players he was a young starter in the 1980 Wallaby side which won the Bledisloe Cup in Sydney in the 3rd and deciding game that year. O'Connor scored a try in this game marking his ascendancy in representative rugby and coinciding with a re-birth of Australian rugby and the beginning of a golden period through to the Grand Slam achievement of 1984.

He made 13 Wallaby appearances at Centre up till the July 1982 Test against Scotland.

Rugby league

O'Connor switched to rugby league, signing with New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership side, St George in 1983. He made his State of Origin debut for New South Wales two years later in 1985.[1] Heavy rain confronted the players at Lang Park when the teams took the field for the opening match of the series, and it was thought players new to Origin football such as Michael O'Connor might struggle to cope with the conditions. However the former Wallaby displayed nerves of steel to complete one of Origin's most memorable debuts scoring two tries and kicking five goals to finish with all 18 of the Blue's points. His international rugby league debut in the 1st Test against New Zealand in Auckland in July 1986 saw him become Australia's 37th dual code rugby international following Ray Price and preceding Ricky Stuart. Many of his international rugby league appearances were as a winger, such was the depth of the three-quarter talent available to the Australian selectors during his era. Following the 1987 grand final victory he travelled with the champion Manly side to England for the 1987 World Club Challenge against their champions, Wigan. O'Connor scored tries in all three matches of the 1988 State of Origin series. He also represented St. Helens in a short spell in England during 1989, but his performances were largely disappointing, culminating in the side's humiliating 27–0 defeat at Wembley against arch rivals, Wigan. O'Connor's specially arranged return for that match, given his unimpressive performances for the side was controversial – he took Dave Tanner's place who had played in the famous 16–14 victory over Widnes [ref 1]. Saints coach, Alex Murphy tried O'Connor at fullback on occasion without success. He primarily played in his preferred centre position after that. O'Connor took on the Sea Eagles' captaincy after Paul Vautin moved to the Eastern Suburbs Roosters in 1990. He is remembered in State of Origin folklore for a sideline conversion in teeming rain after the final siren to win the 2nd game of the 1991 series. At the end of 1992 Winfield Cup season, still on top and producing his best as captain of the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, O'Connor announced his retirement. O'Connor was rated the 50th best Australian rugby league player of all time in a Rugby League Week Special in 1992.

Post playing

After retirement as a player O'Connor had administrative roles with both the Australian Rugby League and then the Australian Rugby Union. He was the ARU's Talent Identification Coordinator for a number of years. In 2006 O'Connor was appointed as a Wallaby Selector filling the independent role on the selection panel, along with Head Coach John Connolly and Attack Coach Scott Johnson. He is currently the Head Coach for the Australian Rugby Sevens Team.


Further reading

External links

1. http://www.saints.org.uk/saints.org.uk/home/viewpage.php?page_id=7

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