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Australia star James O'Connor ready for London Irish debut

Last Updated: 02/11/13 1:45pm

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James O'Connor: Fresh start at London Irish

James O'Connor: Fresh start at London Irish

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London Irish boss Brian Smith is expecting big things of James O'Connor when he makes his Aviva Premiership debut on Sunday.

The Australia star is hoping to get his career back on track in England after it nosedived following the British & Irish Lions tour in the summer.

Problems on and off the pitch saw him jettisoned from the Wallabies squad, the final straw being when he was escorted from Perth airport for alleged drunkenness.

The controversial Australian star lines up at full-back when London Irish - who he has joined until the end of the season - tackle Madejski Stadium visitors Northampton on Sunday.

"We have a very strong culture at the club and we've worked hard to keep it," Irish rugby director Smith said.

"James understands his responsibilities here, embraces them and our culture.

"From a rugby and intellectual point of view we are getting a current front-line international player and will have that rub-off effect on our squad.

"James went straight in from school into playing international rugby. A lot of us had the opportunity to grow up and make our mistakes out of the limelight, but he hasn't had that opportunity."

"Northampton are the in-form team at the moment and we will have to be at our best to shut them down.

"It has been a big week for the club with the announcement of James, and we hope we see a big turn-out by our supporters on Sunday to welcome him to the club."

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