A reformed bad boy rugby union star has revealed how a night in a Paris jail sell convinced him he needed to change his life.
James O’Connor, 30, was representing his country as part of the Wallabies and playing for the Melbourne Rebels in 2012.
The antics saw him leave the Australian Rugby world for France in 2013.
James O’Connor (pictured with fiancée Bridget Bauman), 30, was representing his country as part of the Wallabies and playing for the Melbourne Rebels in 2012
‘I was angry, frustrated, I wasn’t performing, people were coming down on me. I couldn’t get away with what I was before. It felt like the walls were coming in on me. That’s when I started becoming … a bit darker,’ he told The Australian.
O’Connor’s life hit rock bottom when he was thrown into a Parisian jail cell for two nights in 2017.
He was arrested because he was with another footballer, Ali Williams, who was allegedly buying cocaine.
O’Connor was never charged with any crime over the incident.
However he spent two nights in a jail cell with three other men where they shared one thin mattress.
O’Connor watched as one man smear faeces on their cell wall, while another screamed in rage before another man attacked him.
Frustrations with his performance caused the star (pictured) to turn to alcohol and prescription drugs, which led to a drunken outburst at Perth airport
‘My time in there haunted me. It felt like a medieval dungeon. It was horrible,’ he said.
O’Connor said he hadn’t done anything wrong that night, but he was still living a life filled with wrong decisions.
He said he thought his career was over while in the prison cell.
The star revealed he walked out of the cell knowing he needed help, but it would be another year before her found it in ‘Ollie’ from Saviour World, a well-being organisation.
O’Connor’s (pictured with his fiancée) life hit rock bottom when he was thrown into a Parisian jail cell for two nights in 2017
He said Ollie told him to get off the prescription drugs and then broke him down physically and mentally.
‘The process we went through was a completely different world, it blew me away, then I just felt so good,’ O’Connor said.
O’Connor regularly posts about Saviour World on his Instagram account, and even flew to Iceland in September last year to take part in a Saviour World ‘training camp’.
‘I have been pushed into some very uncomfortable situations by Saviour World through the use of sensory deprivation, heat exhaustion and deep states of meditation,’ O’Connor posted to Instagram.
O’Connor (pictured with Ms Bauman) spent two nights in a jail cell with three other men where they shared one thin mattress
The player (pictured) said he walked out of the cell knowing he needed help but it would be another year before her found it in ‘Ollie’ from Saviour World
‘My reaction to each stimulus has forced me to face myself and my darkness in a way that I have never felt before.’
O’Connor wrote the ‘humbling’ and ‘enlightening’ experience allowed him to see who he ‘must become’ and urged him to share his ‘truth’.
‘I have a deep desire to play for the Wallabies again,’ the post continued.
‘I have learnt from my mistakes and I am now ready. Ready to bleed green and gold. Ready to bleed for my brothers. Ready to bleed for the people.
‘I will be back playing in October and I will have my eye firmly on the World Cup. I will not let myself or anyone down again. Time to shine!’
O’Connor has since returned to Australian rugby union and plays for the Queensland Reds.
FROM GOLDEN BOY TO WORLD CUP SAVIOUR: THE TUMULTUOUS CAREER OF JAMES O’CONNOR
O’Connor was born on the Gold Coast in 1990.
He became the second youngest Wallaby in Australian rugby history at age 18 in 2008.
His Rugby Australia contract was terminated in 2013 after a number of off-field indiscretions, including a drunken incident at Perth Airport.
O’Connor moved to the UK to play for London Irish before returning to Australia.
He signed with the Queensland Reds in a bid to make the 2015 Rugby World Cup squad.
He moved overseas again, this time to France where he played Toulon.
In 2017, O’Connor was arrested in Paris for alleged cocaine possession.
In 2018, O’Connor began posting on Instagram about his ‘road to recovery’ with Saviour World mentors.
He went to Iceland and in a post in September 2018, he said he was determined to represent Australia again.
O’Connor played for the Sale Sharks in England for two years before he was released from the final year of his contract to return home to Australia this year.
O’Connor returned to the Australian squad in 2019 and was part of a win against the All Blacks on Saturday.