Sale Sharks swoop for James O'Connor

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Sale Sharks have announced the marquee signing of James O'Connor from Toulon ahead of the 2017-18 Premiership season.

The versatile back, who turns 27 next month, has signed a three-year contract at the AJ Bell Stadium.

O'Connor burst on to the international scene with Australia as a teenager in 2008, but earned the last of his 44 caps for the Wallabies almost four years ago.

Off-field issues have blighted O'Connor's career and he was briefly suspended by Toulon in February for drug offences.

Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond is confident the former Western Force, Melbourne Rebels, London Irish and Queensland Reds star can thrive at the Sharks.

"We are delighted that James O'Connor will be joining us," said Diamond. "He is a world-class versatile back that will add a lot to our game.

"He is the type of player that, alongside a group of incredibly talented home-grown lads, will help us as a club to push on and achieve the vision of our owners Simon Orange and Ged Mason.

"He has great feet, and an unbelievable running and kicking game which will threaten any opposition.

"What is exciting about James O'Connor is his potential. He was capped for Australia 44 times by the age of 23 and even now at only 26, he has played in the English Premiership, French Top 14, Super 15 [sic] and at international level.

"He has a lot of experience and is keen to show his international calibre. We are all pleased he has chosen to do this at Sale Sharks."