O'Connor's inspiration behind Anzac game fitness race

James O'Connor has revealed his grandfather's incredible story of wartime survival as he clings to the faint prospect of a return from injury for Super Rugby Pacific's Anzac Round.

The hamstrung playmaker visited Brisbane's Gallipoli Barracks military base on Wednesday, wearing the one-off jersey the Reds will sport in next Saturday's home game against the Auckland-based Blues.

The jersey honours the 11 Reds players who died in wartime and the 60 who served in five wars over 125 years, featuring colour patches and imagery specific to relevant Queensland battalions.

Every Australian team will play a New Zealand team in a round of significance for the 64-cap Wallaby O'Connor, who is yet to feature because of a hamstring injury this season.

Reds pair James O’Connor and Zane Nonggorr are hoping to do justice to their Anzac jersey.

O'Connor's grandfather Maurice served with New Zealand’s 7th Anti-Tank Regiment in the Middle East.

He fought in the Battle of Crete and was then injured and taken prisoner while fighting in Africa.

The Italian ship he had boarded was torpedoed by the British, Maurice swimming to safety only to be captured and sent to a number of Italian prisoner-of-war (POW) camps.

“In 1943, he escaped with several other POWs and travelled over the Apennine Mountains," O'Connor said of his grandfather, who lived until he was 93.

"They managed to travel through the German lines to reach British troops."

"We didn't actually find out a lot of what happened until we saw some books that came out with his story.

"The older you get the more you reflect and ... you're very grateful and hopefully it (the jersey) is doing it justice."

O'Connor won't play against the Highlanders on Friday and is bullish about his chances of a return next week, having not featured all season due to injury.

While they appear unlikely, the off-contract 33-year-old is adamant he can still play a key on-field role this season and has not giving up hope of playing on next year.

"Not at all; it's played on my mind, those thoughts," he said.

"I'll be ready when I'm ready but the hunger's there, that's for sure."

JOC
Off-contract James O'Connor is yet to feature this season due to a hamstring injury.

O'Connor said his hamstring tendon damage had been "pretty big" and that the recovery time could be as much as 12 weeks, rather than the four that was initially forecast.

He had been training strongly last month but hasn't been part of the main group in recent weeks while watching the side slip from 3-1 to 3-4.

"That's the art of patience that one. Had ankles, torn groin, this one's proving to be interesting," he said of the careful approach needed to decrease the risk of further damage.

"We're not reacting at all; there's a process."

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.


Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
AU$10
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
AU$5
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
AU$99
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

SEVEN DAYS FREE
Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store