London Irish: James O'Connor impresses Alex Lewington

James O'Connor

London Irish back Alex Lewington says he has been impressed with the impact made by new signing James O'Connor.

The full-back joined the Exiles after having his contract terminated by the Australian Rugby Union following a string of off-field incidents.

"He seems like a great guy and we've got on well as has everyone in the squad," Lewington told BBC Berkshire.

"When he is on the pitch there is a great buzz and the crowd expect things and you just want to feed off it."

He added: "It is exciting and he is a real talent."

O'Connor has made one appearance for the Exiles, since joining last month, in their 19-14 defeat by Northampton.

The 23-year-old was told he would not be offered a contract with the ARU for 2014 after a disciplinary investigation found he had "failed to uphold the behavioural and cultural standards expected within the team".

In August he was barred from taking an international flight and then removed from Perth Airport by police following the Wallabies' win against Argentina after he was alleged to have been "intoxicated".

But Lewington, 22, believes O'Connor who has played 44 Tests for Australia has been harshly treated and believes players should be allowed to drink alcohol as long as they are responsible.

"James has been hard done by," said Lewington. "It's hard. I've got friends at university who have had a good time socially.

"You miss out on that as you have to be disciplined but at the same time you don't have to be stone cold sober the whole time.

"There is always a time and place. As long as you are training well and playing well and don't have any commitments the next day then there is no reason why you can't have a few beers.

"That's part of what rugby is and part of the culture."