McKenzie's predecessor Robbie Deans showed huge faith in O'Connor, naming him fly-half for the Lions series, but the versatile utility struggled in the playmaking position as the
Wallabies lost the series 2-1. O'Connor further blotted his copybook by missing a bus for training and being photographed at a fast food restaurant with fellow Wallabies back Kurtley Beale in the lead-up to the second Lions Test in Melbourne.
Despite finishing the Lions tour in a storm of criticism and being dumped by Super Rugby club Melbourne Rebels, O'Connor was named in McKenzie's 30-man squad for the southern hemisphere
Rugby Championship, which kicks off with a match against New Zealand in Sydney on Saturday.
O'Connor is not among McKenzie's preferred fly-half candidates, however, and the talented 23-year-old said that "wasn't too big a shock" after the series to the Lions.
"I don't play rugby to be talked about off the field," O'Connor told reporters in Sydney on Monday.
"I'm playing rugby because I love it and that's what I want to be doing, playing for my country.
"At the moment I'm doing the hard yards and I'm trying to get involved and earn myself into the team.
"It's not hard to do, it's just putting the team first.
"There's definitely things that I already have changed and am in the process of doing, personal things."
O'Connor remains without a Super Rugby club and only the lowly Western Force have professed an interest, despite parting ways with him in acrimonious circumstances in 2011.
He is likely to retain his place in the Wallabies' starting 15, however, but is expected play in the team's back three where he has thrived in the past, launching counter-attacks from full-back or raids down the wings.
McKenzie's intent to coach an entertaining rugby team is likely to be music to O'Connor's ears.
"We spoke about the game plan and it's got a lot of boys excited, especially being a back," O'Connor said.
"Just the scope. There's a lot of landscape in the game plan to express yourself."