Former Wallaby James O’Connor has returned fire over Greg Martin’s pointed criticisms of the fallen rugby star, claiming the commentator has “no interest in the truth”.
O’Connor was released from his Super Rugby contract with the Queensland Reds to join his former club Toulon with the Australian franchise saying he’d been dealing with a number of personal matters.
It followed a series of other problems he had encountered playing Super Rugby and for the national team.
Martin, himself a nine-Test Wallaby, described O’Connor as an “immature twat” and “a little punk” on Wednesday, saying he was one of Australian rugby’s greatest wasted talents.
O’Connor used his Facebook page to mount a 1523-word defence.
“Greg did not say these comments while I was present, he offered me no chance to respond and frankly from the position I stand he does not care,” O’Connor wrote.
“He has no interest in the truth; he has no interest in finding the real story.
“Greg’s interest is his own opinion and making his own headlines, with no consideration to whom he drags through the mud.
“I am the first to recognise that my previous behaviour was not one of an upstanding individual but, like all people, I wish to learn from my mistakes and look to improve myself.
“Greg’s comment on ‘everyone else growing up, except for James O’Connor’ implies that I have no recognition of the consequences of my previous actions.
“I find it ironic that the man accusing me of being immature then preceded to call me an ‘immature twat’, and ‘a little punk’ on live radio. A childish insult at best, from a 50-year-old father.”
Martin has previously been critical of O’Connor, who slept through the Wallabies’ World Cup announcement in 2011, was released from the Melbourne Rebels in 2013 and was involved in a drunken incident in Perth among other indiscretions.
But O’Connor took exception to Martin’s lack of empathy for his plight when not privy to the reasons behind his release from the Reds.
“A recent headline that sticks out for me is the much-publicised story of another prominent athlete’s own personal issues,” O’Connor wrote.
“However, the key difference in this, was that this person received support from not only his peers but also Australian media and was used as a tool to highlight the importance of recognition of mental illness.
“I do not need to answer the speculation of a man that obviously has little empathy toward fellow athletes.
“Instead of support, Greg felt it necessary to question my character when for all he knows my mental state could be extremely unstable.
“The fact is the man is trivialising mental health issues by making such comments when he knows nothing about the circumstances surrounding my release.”
O’Connor also said Martin should know better than to break ranks from the Wallabies’ “brotherhood” by publicly belittling a colleague who wore the gold jumper.
“Look at how Brad Fittler and Gorden Tallis spoke nothing but praise and admiration for their former constituents during State of Origin,” he wrote.
“Compare that to Greg’s commentating of the Australia vs Uruguay World Cup game, and what will be found is numerous comments deriding the efforts of players giving their all for their country.”
There were hundreds of responses to O’Connor’s open letter on Facebook with one gaining 500 likes.
It read simply: “Could have just called him a —- and saved all that time.”