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Sale Sharks have agreed to release James O’Connor from his three-year contract with immediate effect. The decision has been made to allow James (28) to pursue his ambitions of playing for Australia in the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

O’Connor joined the Sharks at the start of the 17/18 season arriving from Toulon after two years in the south of France. The then 26-year-old utility back settled quickly in Manchester and made an instant impact to the squad at Carrington, making 31 appearances in total for the club over two years.

James has signed a contract with Rugby Australia which will allow him to be selected for the World Cup later this year he leaves Manchester with the full support of the club.

We would like to wish James the best of luck in the future and thank him for his contribution to Sale Sharks over the past two seasons..

Sale Sharks Director of Rugby Steve Diamond said: “James returns to Australia with the Clubs full blessing, he is an exceptional talent and we will be sorry to see him go, but he has a dream to play for his country again and I will never block anybody’s opportunity to do that, especially at a World Cup.

Since arriving in Manchester two years ago James has gone to extreme lengths to improve himself both mentally and physically, and has been successful in both areas. After chatting at length, we agreed the time is right for him to continue his ongoing journey back home.

I would like to thank James for his commitment and contribution to the vision at Sale Sharks and wish him well in the future. I look forward to seeing him progress further in his career, both on and off the field.”

James Added: “I have nothing but positive words to say about my experience at Sale Sharks.

They took me in and gave me an opportunity at a time in my life when I needed support and needed a chance to right my wrongs. In Manchester, I was given a foundation to do that. I will be forever grateful to Steve Diamond, all the players and coaches, and the Sale Sharks supporters who have all helped facilitate my journey back to full power, without the experience at Sale I would not have been able to grow and find my true self in a chaotic period of my life.

It has been an honour to represent the club until the very end and I would again like to thank Dimes and everyone involved in my ongoing journey. The club is in a fantastic position and have made some great additions to the squad over the summer and I wish the Sharks every success for the future.”


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