Top Tips from Melbourne Rebels and Australian star utility back, James O’Connor.
I first came across James O’Connor on our last England tour to Australia; I was watching the first of our midweek games against an Australia Barbarians side on a Tuesday night before the first test. The game was a pretty standard affair, with the well prepared England side winning the set piece battle, when this Justin Bieber look a like character (sorry couldn’t resist) cut the English defense apart, not only with speed, but for his size great power. He was beating people with footwork, and shrugging off tacklers for fun. It turned out to be James O'Connor, he scored 3 tries in 43mins that game and was the stand out performer by a long way. I was shocked to find he was so young, and had already made his full Australian debut as their second youngest player. He came off at half time during that Barbarians game, and would later feature in the full test team that weekend.
Since that moment he hasn’t really looked back and has been a consistent performer for the Australians and remains one of the games most exciting attacking players.
I have asked James to provide some tips and info that you can add to your programs.
Name- James O'Connor
How long have you been playing rugby for?
Since I was 5 years old.
Which players do you look up to for inspiration?
All time Favourite player, is Christian Cullen
Your best rugby moment so far?
- Scoring the Winning Try & then converting against All Blacks in Hong Kong 2010
You're obviously a powerful guy on the field, what kind of things to you do in your training to help this?
- The areas that I like to focus on more than anything are Plyometric’s & power lifting. My go to exercises are the Power Snatch, Box jumps & stair hops, with both static landings & explosive ones.
What drills or exercises do you use to help maintain those naughty quick feet?
Obviously some of the ability to step is natural but I have found that doing Ladder work repeatedly, using all sorts of different drills can make a visible difference. I also like to make things realistic, so I do a lot of 1 on 1 touch at training as well as just watching other guys with good feet & how/what circumstance they use them in.
If you had a 1 Hr to prepare for a game per week, what you do
Good question, I would probably do a couple of explosive exercises in the gym like I mentioned, (power snatch and box jumps) practice my goal kicking, and do some one on one-evasion drills. A couple of leg tackles. A little bit of speed work, some handling skills and that would do me.
How often do you practice your goal, kicking. Any tips-
Every day I put aside 20 minutes after practice to do in a variety of situations, different areas & trying to replicate pressure kicks which is as easy as putting a few bets on with team mates at training. For example If I get next 5 kicks in a row you owe me lunch!!! Kurtley Beale often ends up buying me food on a daily basis ;)!
Do you play any other sports other than rugby?
Touch Football & boxing
What’s your favorite food?
Sushi- chicken/avo rolls & salmon sashimi
2 tips that people can introduce into their training programs
- Try having a ball in your hand as much a possible, at home, cruising around in your down time- it helps you get that finer touch on the ball. Secondly having a recovery hour a day, focusing on stretching, triggering pointing & doing rehab exercises.
2 tips people can add to their diet to get the James O’Conner physic.
Low carbs (try not to have sugary drinks & bread etc.) 6 smaller meals a day is really the key, lots of nuts & grains.
If you are going to let you hair down and chill what would you eat.
Your go to pre match meal.
Your favourite afternoon snack.
I love to Snack on almonds & apricots whilst sipping a Peppermint tea.
Do you take any supplements and if so what.
Just protein shakes, low carbs varieties in the morning- and after weights & before bed.
Hopefully that has helped you have an insight how those at the top of the game do it. Try a few of the tips and let me know how you get on.
Follow James on twitter @JamesOConnor832