James O'Connor has revealed the mental demons which threatened to ruin his rugby career after signing a Queensland Super Rugby contract which makes him eligible for the Wallabies again.
O'Connor's Test career may get a reboot as soon as this weekend with the star utility now available for selection to play South Africa in their Rugby Championship clash in Johannesburg after inking a 2-1/2-year deal with the Reds.
With Queensland midfield ace Samu Kerevi exiting to play in Japan after this year's World Cup, O'Connor is the perfect replacement in the young backline.
Now 29, O'Connor became the youngest ever Super Rugby debutant at age 17 and at 18 the second youngest Wallaby, but his promising career went off track through a number of off-field indiscretions.
His last Test was in 2013 before his national contract was torn up after a drunken incident at an airport.
Taking his career to the UK, O'Connor has impressed both on the field and off in his last two seasons with Sale Sharks.
O'Connor played 13 games for the Reds during the 2015 Super Rugby season and said he was battling injury but now realised he was also in pain mentally.
He went to Iceland late last year to undergo extreme therapies such as sensory-deprivation exercises, heat exhaustion and deep states of meditation and felt it had helped him heal.
"The last time I returned, I thought I was ready to repair some of the mistakes I made but also reach my rugby potential, but it was too rushed," O'Connor said.
"I didn't recognise how much pain I was still in mentally.
"I wouldn't change it because I was guided to the correct mentors and I've been on a journey ever since to understanding my true self and how I'm meant to use my privileged position in rugby.
"I see now that rugby is a gift and I want my journey back to inspire possibly other young men out there who may be a little lost in the world right now."
Speaking from the Wallabies team camp in Johannesburg, O'Connor said he was grateful for another chance.
"A lot of guys have shown faith in me so all I'm focusing on right now is putting my best foot forward," O'Connor said.
O'Connor admitted his last stint with the Reds was unsatisfactory and felt he owed his home state.
"I'm a Queenslander ... and I think I owe Queensland the best version of myself.
"I'm finally ready to return and make amends."
O'Connor said his preferred position was at inside centre but would take any opportunity to again play for Australia.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is unlikely to select him to face the Springboks ahead of a number of proven Super Rugby performers within the squad.
However, he is now in the mix for this year's World Cup in Japan, after taking part in the 2011 edition.
Rugby Australia director of rugby Scott Johnson said he believed O'Connor had returned home with the right intentions.
"He's matured and understands the leadership roles both on-and-off the field," Johnson said.
"He's been honest and transparent throughout this whole process.
"We want to back the man to be the player we know he can be."
James O'Connor by the numbers
Honour role: Australian Schoolboys (2007), Australian Wallabies (2008-2013), Western Force (2008-2011), Melbourne Rebels (2012-2013), Queensland Reds (2015, 2020-), London Irish (2013-2014), Toulon (2014, 2015-2017), Sale Sharks (2017-2019)
Super Rugby debut: 2008 v Reds, Brisbane
Super Rugby caps: 71
Test debut: 2008 v Italy, Padova
Test caps: 44
Australian Associated Press