FREIER: Well, welcome to Mexico, Rabbit. How have you found Melbourne thus far? Have people noticed you?
O'CONNOR: This city is sports crazy. I love it. I loved Perth, and don't get me wrong I have great memories, but I am really looking forward to new chapter. Melbourne has such a great buzz. I am really enjoying the new environment, and the new players here. I also like the way we are trying to play the game. It's a fresh start, which I am so excited about.
FREIER: I've noticed, mate. I've also noticed how much you love training, which was a surprise to me. I had no idea. Does the public have the wrong idea about you?
O'CONNOR: I don't really know what everyone's idea of me is but I guess there is an idea that I am young [and] I do what I want. I think people think a lot of the younger guys, we're on Twitter, we're on Facebook and we play rugby because we enjoy it but we're not really about the team and for the team. For me I like to have fun off the field as well. There are a lot of tight guys in the team, they're my best mates and I spend most of my hours with them. I'm never sort of alone, I love everyone's company and that's why I love this sort of environment.
FREIER: Some people, by watching you train and by how you carry yourself think that you are arrogant and typically Gen Y. How do you explain to people the difference between this perception and the reality of who you are as a person on and off the field?
O'CONNOR: They've only seen the outcome, only seen me playing in the gold jersey, or me playing Super Rugby, they haven't seen all I've had to go through. I've had to bust my arse to get here. I wouldn't say against the odds, but off the field I've had to do so much work for me to stay in the game and when I was younger it was pretty tough. From 12 to 15 I had to stay tough mentally because I was always a lot smaller than everyone else. There were times when I thought I wouldn't be playing footy and I had my heyday in the under 12s. Statistically the odds aren't in your favour. I guess that's why I back my ability, which people may mistake for being cocky.
FREIER: Everyone says you are the most prolific attacking weapon, but I've noticed in the trials you've probably been better defensively than in attack. Has that been by accident or is that something you've worked on?
O'CONNOR: That's probably going back on that perception as well.
FREIER: The perception is you are a little bloke, let's run at him.
O'CONNOR: Exactly. I guess I've been seen like that all my life. When I first came to Super Rugby, I maybe got caught up in attack, because everyone now says that I'm an attacking player so I didn't focus on my defence as much.
Growing up that was one of my strengths, defensively I wouldn't let anyone get past. Guys would run at me and they would think they would just knock me over because I was smaller so I would just chop them down. If you look at the best players in the world, Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, they don't just tackle, Jonny Wilkinson, even in rugby league Andrew Johns was one of the best hitters going around. I said that's where I need to get to. My attack is always going to come, if it's on, it will come. I've got other players in my back line I don't need to overplay my hand. But for me defensively I thought I could really make a stand here and bring our forwards into the game. If the forwards see a smaller guy like myself chopping blokes and really getting line speed, it's similar to what I feel like when I see a forward bust someone up. It brings enthusiasm, it brings a lot of belief.
FREIER: Do you still confide in Wallabies coach Robbie [Deans]? Do you still speak to him about footy?
O'CONNOR: I was talking to him just before I met you.
FREIER: Does he give you footy advice or life advice because he was a young player not dissimilar to you when he played in New Zealand, everyone was pinning their hopes on Robbie at fullback to take the All Blacks into the next era. Does he give you any advice apart from footy?
O'CONNOR: When you get to this level there is not too much you can really be coached on. I guess to get better as a player it's mental, that mental thing that takes you from good to great. He is certainly given me a lot of help, he has been great to play under, but I don't want to sound cocky …
FREIER: You can be honest.
O'CONNOR: I want to be one of those players who have changed the game, and he thinks similarly. My goal is to play for Australia for as long as I can. I want to win cups, I want to win trophies with my teammates, for my teammates and for Australia. Robbie wants the same.
FREIER: Prior to the World Cup you slept through a pretty important promo, and for the record I missed the World Cup photo as well. What's the first thing that goes through your mind when you see the time?
O'CONNOR: First thing was I let my teammates down. I felt awful. I know we can all say we have all been late, but I really felt terrible. We were so tight as a team, and to think that I broke that trust really stung me. Many people don't realise that it really hurt me, and to miss an opportunity to play for my country was the worst thing you could have done. You are always learning, and I learnt a valuable lesson in life. My teammates were the first thing I thought of, and I really let them down.
FREIER: You didn't sleep in for the flight to the World Cup. It was such a good build-up and then what happened against New Zealand? Surely that must have stung?
O'CONNOR: It was probably the worst feeling I've had in a rugby game. It was not because there was an expectation on us, but we were good enough to win. We had beaten them four weeks previously so we had the game plan to beat them so to come out so flat when so many Australians travelled across and I guess the weight of a country behind you knowing that you guys can do it, just to fizzle out the way we did and not turn out on the day. That's probably the hardest thing, if we had played a great game of rugby and lost I would have come off a lot happier but for me personally I wasn't happy. I didn't get involved, I was quiet that game.
FREIER: You're a tweeter. What do you get out of interacting with your fans?
O'CONNOR: You get a lot people that bag you on Twitter, and Quade [Cooper] had plenty, but we do get a lot of support and some people were very supportive of him and I during the World Cup. It was great in that respect. But I had my fair share of baggings for the "brand" comment.
FREIER: Do you regret saying it?
O'CONNOR: Absolutely. I really don't see myself as a "brand". There was plenty going on and I slipped on one word. I did feel I wanted it to more sound like the brand of rugby I wanted to play.