Michael’s’ ability in identifying and selecting talent, the complimentary nature of his skill set to the existing high performance department and the independence he brings to the role proved to ensure he was the winning candidate from a strong field of applicants.
Michael O’Connor was one of the most scintillating centres to ever play Test rugby for Australia. Fast with the dangerous combination of a devastating swerve and side-step, O’Connor had the indomitable spirit and competitive instinct of a champion.
Born in Nowra, O’Connor’s family moved to Canberra where he nurtured his sporting talents. On Saturdays, O’Connor played rugby in the morning for the local Hawks club and in the afternoon it was soccer for North Canberra. On Sundays he played rugby league for the Woden Valley Rams. By the time O’Connor left Curtin Primary School, he had represented the ACT in all three codes.
In 1977, O’Connor enrolled at Phillip College and played in the 1st XV for two years. That year he captained the Australian U17s to New Zealand and from there earned a spot on the famous 1977/78 Australian Schools tour to the northern hemisphere. O’Connor came to the fore in 1979 when he made his ACT debut against a star-studded Sydney side and then played a brilliant lone hand at Ballymore against Queensland when he marked Geoff Shaw.
His form won him a place on the Wallaby tour to Argentina where he made his Test debut in Buenos Aires. When the All Blacks arrived in 1980, Australia fielded one of their greatest ever backlines – Cox, Ella, Hawker, O’Connor, Moon, Martin and Gould – and went on to win the series 2-1 and in doing so retain the Bledisloe Cup for the first time in history. In 1981 O’Connor left the ACT for Brisbane to play under Bob Templeton.
A strong series against the visiting French ensured his selection for the Seventh Wallabies tour to Britain however injuries conspired against him. O’Connor scored the only try in the win over Ireland, a bad knee injury saw him miss the Welsh Test after he was named in the run-on XV then a sprained ankle ruled him out of the Scotland Test. O’Connor did return for the tour’s final international against England at Twickenham.
In 1982 he was among a group of nine Queenslanders who made themselves unavailable for the 1982 tour to New Zealand. Later that year he switched codes to play rugby league for St George and went on to play 18 tests for Australia and tour with the all-conquering 1986 Kangaroos to Britain.
O’Connor later coached the Australian Men’s Sevens side (2008-14) and also served as a national selector in 2006-07. Michael O’Connor played 12 rugby Tests for Australia in a four-year international career
Captained the Australian U17 team on their tour of New Zealand.
Represented Australian Schools against Welsh Schools
O’Connor won his first Test cap at outside centre alongside Andrew Slack in the 1st Test, 13-24 loss to Argentina in Buenos Aires. A week later he retained his spot for the 2nd Test, 17-12 victory also in Buenos Aires.
O’Connor played in all four Tests at No.13, one with Slack against Fiji and all three Bledisloe Cup Tests in partnership with Michael Hawker. He scored his first Test try in the 26-10 win against New Zealand in Sydney. Represented Australia at the Hong Kong 7s.
Represented Australia at the Hong Kong 7s.
He and Hawker lined-up for the two home Tests against France. O’Connor also won caps on the right wing against Ireland and England.
O’Connor played his final two Tests against Scotland. The first inside Slack and the second outside Hawker. Represented Australia at the Hong Kong 7s.