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Australian Rugby
James O'Connor treated fairly: Damien Hill
July 12, 2013

Melbourne Rebels coach Damien Hill denies the Super Rugby franchise mistreated axed Wallabies fly-half James O'Connor, as claimed by AFL star Lance Franklin.

O'Connor, 23, has remained tight-lipped about the club's decision to axe him, but his close friend Franklin slammed the Rebels on Twitter after they announced this week they wouldn't offer him a new deal.

"Just don't understand how a club could treat an individual so badly.. Going to the extent to make @JamesOConnor832 look like a bad person," Franklin tweeted on Wednesday night.

O'Connor, believed to have alienated people at the Rebels with his at-times brash manner, is yet to find a new Super Rugby club. He has been named on the bench for Melbourne's final match of the season against the Highlanders at AAMI Park on Friday night, and he completed their final training session ahead of the game and looked relaxed among his teammates.

The Wallabies' James O'Connor passes to Christian Lealiifano, Australia v British & Irish Lions, second Test, Tom Richards Cup, Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, June 29, 2013
James O'Connor's world has turned upside down in the past week © Getty Images
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Hill, who has been replaced in his role by Wallabies assistant coach Tony McGahan, said the club hadn't wronged O'Connor. "Not one bit," Hill said. "Everybody commences their time at a football club with a start date and an end date with their contract, I'm no different. Decisions are made based on behaviours and performances when those things are being reviewed, and that's all that's happened in James' case. Nothing more should be read into it."

Rebels captain Gareth Delve said he had spoken with O'Connor, and that the Wallabies player was being professional about his predicament. "Every time I've played with James, he's put his body on the line and I think a lot of people need to remember that," Delve said.

Hill praised O'Connor for making himself available for their final game given the toll of the Lions series. "I definitely haven't pushed him to play. It's a gutsy effort because he's still feeling the effects of a pretty hard series and he's going to inject off the bench so who knows what he's going to bring in the last half of the game."

© AAP
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