James O’Connor hopes his summer move to Sale Sharks will boost his chances of getting back into the Australian national team.
After arriving from super-club Toulon, the 27-year old utility back is planning to continue his strong four opening games with the club.
Following his impressive start to the season, which included a try on his debut, he will be hoping to make an even bigger impact before the Autumn internationals start for Australia on Nov 11 against Wales (a week after they face Japan).
“I have been pretty vocal about that I want to be playing for Australia but first things first I have to be coming up for Sale,” O’Connor told MM with ninth-placed Sharks set to welcome Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs to Manchester this evening.
“So if Sale’s playing well, we’re dominating teams and I’m a big part of that then I think that will put me in a lot better place to be playing for Australia.
“Firsts things first I have to be playing well here.”
After undergoing ankle surgery following his summer switch, he voiced the importance of starting slowly and just getting back into the line-up.
“My main focus was to get to the starting team and build some momentum and really start to help contribute and control the team around the field.”
However, his last game for the Wallabies came in 2013, as along with injury his disciplinary issues have seen a lot of critics doubt a possible return to the international set-up.
After being asked about his off-field problems, the playmaker strained to point out the reasoning behind the move.
“It was a rugby decision coming to Sale. From the first chats I had with Steve (Diamond) to signing on the dotted line it was all about rugby.
“Obviously I’m in a leadership group here and all the other guys in the squad help to see me for what I am.”
The second youngest ever Wallaby, he has competed for his nation both at the then Tri-Nations and also against the British and Irish Lions in 2013.
He believes this education will only help him and the team this season.
“I can bring a lot of experience to the team. I’ve played professional rugby for the last ten years now, so it’s more a matter of just getting on with it.”
Despite only winning two games this season, the man from Cronulla is adamant that he and Sale will be a success this season.
“I think the big difference is that the mind-set at Sale right now is that we’re an attacking team and we’ve got our basic shapes down pack,” he said.
“Everybody knows their role and everybody is sticking to it pretty well.
“We know that if we play that and everybody does their job individually we’re going to cut teams apart.”
Image courtesy of Sale Sharks via Twitter, with thanks.