(Reuters) - Former Wallaby James O‘Connor has been stood down by Toulon and the French club will decide on his playing future next week following his detention by Paris police for an alleged attempt to buy cocaine.
“Following talks, James O‘Connor is temporarily suspended until a next meeting which will take place within eight days,” Toulon said in a statement on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old utility back, capped 44 times for Australia, and former All Blacks lock Ali Williams were charged for attempting to buy three vials of cocaine on Saturday, a judicial source told Reuters.
The pair were released on Sunday, with Williams expected to appear in court at a later date and O‘Connor to pay a fine for cocaine possession.
Toulon’s president Mourad Boudjellal earlier told French media that O‘Connor’s brush with the police had “reopened the debate” as to the extension of his contract, which is set to expire in July.
“We’re not at a stage where we would extend it. We’ll try to manage this season. But I do not want to overburden him,” he said.
Williams, a World Cup winner capped 77 times, was suspended by his Paris club Racing Metro over the weekend.
O‘Connor, who has a long record of off-field indiscipline, told Australian media earlier this month that he had “matured” and was focused on reclaiming his Wallabies jersey, having played his last test in 2013.
He would need to play a season of rugby in Australia to be eligible for selection but pundits see little hope for the Gold Coast-born back to win a contract at any of the country’s five Super Rugby teams.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said O‘Connor needed to seek help away from the field.
”There is a good lad in there and I think we just have to leave the footy out of it for a minute and let the guy get the assistance he needs, to get back personally first of all, and then we’ll see about footy,” Cheika told a rugby chat show on local broadcaster Fox Sports.
Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne and Julie Carriat in San Francisco; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty and Toby Davis