The English­man who saved Wal­laby O’con­nor

Aus­tralia back’s re­turn to the top level is due to Ol­lie Pryce’s guid­ance, writes

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby World Cup -

trained in Thai box­ing and wrestling as well as Brazil­ian ju-jitsu.

“‘Mind’ is about study, knowl­edge,” Pryce con­tin­ues. “There is cre­ation and imag­i­na­tion, the ex­e­cu­tion of dis­ci­pline and even things like lone­li­ness, which can be nec­es­sary for growth.

“‘Soul’ would be spend­ing time with na­ture, con­nect­ing with what the Poly­ne­sians call ‘mana’ and the pur­suit of pur­pose. For as­cen­sion, you have to have some­thing to as­cend to. It’s im­por­tant to con­nect to that. Oth­er­wise you are drift­ing.”

In Septem­ber last year, O’con­nor and Pryce trav­elled to Ice­land.

In­sta­gram posts from that trip de­tailed iso­la­tion tanks, med­i­ta­tion and river swims. It was also when O’con­nor voiced his goal of reach­ing Ja­pan with the Wal­la­bies.

Pryce be­lieves that, once O’con­nor “broke through”, the uni­verse “sent him op­por­tu­ni­ties” – con­ver­sa­tions with head coach of Aus­tralia Michael Cheika and per­for­mances for Sale that caught the eye of Rugby Aus­tralia’s new di­rec­tor of rugby Scott John­son.

When Sale’s di­rec­tor of rugby, Steve Di­a­mond, agreed to re­lease O’con­nor at the start of July, he headed back to Aus­tralia. Pryce fol­lowed and sup­ported him with Saviour World’s tech­niques. He re­mains in Bris­bane and will be watch­ing to­day. “James is now liv­ing a mir­a­cle,” he says. “But, once you get to a higher fre­quency, you have to work harder and be­come more fo­cused. That has been part of the chal­lenge for James at the World Cup be­cause he has ev­ery­thing there to re­pro­gramme him – fame, bright lights, the glam­our of it all.”

Af­ter the tour­na­ment, an­other chap­ter will be­gin for O’con­nor at the Queens­land Reds, where he can be a men­tor for Jor­dan Pe­taia – who starts ahead of him at out­side cen­tre for Aus­tralia to­day. Pryce reck­ons se­nior­ity will suit him.

“I’m very hon­oured to have worked with James,” Pryce says. “I have a huge amount of re­spect for him. He has had to over­come a huge amount of ad­ver­sity, to over­come his own ego. He is a credit to him­self and ev­ery sin­gle per­son he has in­spired so far.”

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