MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia flyhalf James O’Connor suffered burnout main the Queensland Reds final yr and is keen to focus purely on enjoying throughout 2022’s inaugural Super Rugby Pacific competitors, he mentioned on Wednesday.
O’Connor was handed the Reds captaincy final February after common skipper Liam Wright suffered a severe harm.
He earned rave opinions for main the facet to the Super Rugby AU championship in 2021, the Reds’ first title in 10 years.
In a shock, the Reds final week named Wright and scrumhalf Tate McDermott as co-captains for the approaching season.
O’Connor mentioned the additional obligations of the captaincy had weighed him down final yr and he determined to relinquish the function after conversations with the membership.
“We picked aside strengths and the place I believed I might enhance and get the most effective out of my performances and it fell again to in all probability taking over an excessive amount of,” mentioned O’Connor, who was named Australia’s Super Rugby Player of the Year on Wednesday.
“I simply needed to strip it again this yr to concentrate on the gameplay and working the sport, enjoying the most effective I might as a result of I felt I in all probability burnt out after Super Rugby AU,” he added.
O’Connor struggled with accidents on the finish of the Super Rugby season and was restricted to 4 checks, with Quade Cooper slotting in as Wallabies flyhalf.
The Wallabies will play checks in opposition to England in July however O’Connor mentioned he was centered on the Reds’ preparations for Super Rugby Pacific, which begins Feb. 18.
Although the Reds gained the Super Rugby AU title, they had been humbled by New Zealand’s groups in the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competitors, successful just one out of 5 video games.
O’Connor mentioned he felt the Reds had been in a greater place to problem in Super Rugby Pacific, which is able to embrace 5 groups from Australia and New Zealand, and enlargement sides Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika.
“This yr it is only one competitors and we have recognised components of our sport that wanted enchancment,” O’Connor mentioned. “We need to beat them constantly while enjoying our model of soccer and present precisely the place we’re.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Gerry Doyle)