James O'Connor of Toulon is tackled by Joe Rokocoko of Racing 92.
James O'Connor of Toulon is tackled by Joe Rokocoko of Racing 92. Dan Mullan

Club owner set to decide James O'Connor's fate

TROUBLED Australian star James O'Connor's future remains in France - even if he is cut loose by his current Top 14 club Toulon.

O'Connor, 26, spent the weekend in a Paris jail cell, alongside former All Blacks star Ali Williams, after the duo were caught outside a nightclub in a cocaine sting by undercover police.

The Daily Telegraph reported that O'Connor - off contract with Toulon at the end of the season - may still have a future at the club but won't know where he stands until a face-to-face meeting with enigmatic club owner Mourad Boudjellal early on Wednesday (AEST).

Boudjellal is expected to suspend and fine O'Connor, at the very least.

Despite his long-term playing future being up in the air, it's understood that O'Connor won't bother exploring options to return to Super Rugby in Australia.

The Wallabies have been burnt by O'Connor before, and the Australian Rugby Union recently blocked Toulon teammate Ben Barba - serving an NRL ban for cocaine use - from playing at the Brisbane Tens.

And despite his good relationship with Panasonic Wild Knights coach Robbie Deans, it's believed company-owned Japanese clubs are unlikely to consider O'Connor given their desire to promote a squeaky clean image.

French clubs are more willing to take punts on troubled types and O'Connor has forged a strong reputation playing in the Top 14.

O'Connor, who as an 18-year-old became the second-youngest Wallaby, previously left the Force, Rebels and Reds on sour notes.

Former Wallaby turned Fox Sports commentator Greg Martin lamented O'Connor's wasted talent.

"He's played 44 Tests, he's won a Bledisloe Test for us, he's had moments but he's not had enough moments for a bloke with his ability," Martin told foxsports.com.au.

"There's probably no one that has wasted his ability like he has.

"Like, some people have had two years to shake it out of their system, thinking that they're superstars, but time after time he has put his foot into it by carrying on.

"I'd love to see him go well because I know how good he is - I've been watching him since he was 15 - but what's with the attitude?

"It may be irreparable - the pats on the back that he was given when he was young.

"He's one guy, all the other young superstars seem to have had that knocked out of them or they've just made a decision and realised 'I'm running out of time here'.

"He is running out of time, but he doesn't want to change."

News Corp Australia


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