Matthew Gerard O'Connor
- 713Wallaby Number
Matt O’Connor was a Canberra-born centre who fulfilled his early promise and represented the Wallabies at Test level. Educated at Marist College, one of the ACT’s leading rugby schools, O’Connor played in the 1st XV and won selection for Australian Schools. He made his debut for the ACT in 1991 and three years later was made captain. In 1994 selection in the Wallaby midfield for the home series against Ireland was thrown wide open after both Tim Horan and Jason Little suffered knee injuries in the Super 12 final. Following an “excellent all-round performance” for the ACT against Ireland, O’Connor and a young Matthew Burke were selected as the centre pairing for the 1st Test in Brisbane. During the match, O'Connor was unexpectedly hit from his blindside and suffered further damage to a knee cartilage problem he had carried for the previous month.
The selectors named an unchanged line-up for the Sydney Test however O’Connor withdrew due to his knee injury and as a consequence underwent an arthroscopy that revealed the damage was worse than first thought. After six weeks out O'Connor made a trouble-free return to rugby but left his run too late to win inclusion for the final two tests of the season against Western Samoa and New Zealand.
In late 1995 he failed to come to terms with the ACT Brumbies for the opening season of Super Rugby and as a result signed a three-year deal with Super League’s Hunter Mariners. O’Connor played in all the trials before the High Court stopped the Super League competition. He moved to the North Queensland Cowboys and in his fifth game of reserve grade ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament. Once recovered O’Connor enjoyed six years with Kubota in Japan as a player and coach. He has since gone on to have an extensive coaching career with the Brumbies, Australia ‘A’, Leinster, Queensland and Leicester.
Selected in the Australian U17s squad
Represented Australian Schools against England Schools and New Zealand Schools.
Represented Australian U21s against New Zealand U21s in their 10-20 loss at Ballymore.
O’Connor won his first Test cap in the run-on XV at inside centre in the 33-13 victory over Ireland in Brisbane.