James O'Connor kicks a penalty for his French club, Toulon. Photo: Action Images / Peter Cziborra

MELBOURNE – Former Wallabies back James O'Connor has signed with Rugby Australia and Super Rugby team Queensland Reds on a two-and-a-half-year deal, the national governing body said on Tuesday.

A statement on the Rugby Australia website read:

“Rugby Australia and the St.George Queensland Reds today confirmed that Sale Sharks player, James O’Connor will re-join his native state of Queensland for the 2020 season of Vodafone Super Rugby on a two-and-a-half year deal.
O’Connor last played for the Qantas Wallabies in 2013, before making the move to play in Europe and now returns in time to be considered for Australia’s squad for the 2019 Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup campaign.
The move will see O’Connor to return to his home city of Brisbane and join a promising young Queensland Reds backline including Hamish Stewart, Isaac Lucas, Tate McDermott and Jock Campbell.”

O'Connor, once renowned as the bad boy of Australian rugby, has already linked up with Michael Cheika's Wallabies in South Africa and the deal makes him eligible for selection.

O'Connor will return to Brisbane with the Reds through to the 2021 season following two seasons with English Premiership club Sale Sharks.

The 29-year-old has been capped 44 times and made his Australia debut in 2008 as the second-youngest debutant in the team's history at 18 years and 126 days.