Wise Giteau advises youngster O'Connor - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wise Giteau advises youngster O'Connor

By Jim Morton 14/05/2009 05:52:05 PM Comments (0)

Wallabies maestro Matt Giteau is yet to play his last Super 14 match for the Western Force but it seems he's already working to entice star-on-the-rise James O'Connor to follow him to the Brumbies.

Giteau will be one of six players lining up for the Force for the final time on Saturday night when they meet the Highlanders at Subiaco Oval.

In-demand teenager O'Connor could become No.7 with the Brumbies rumoured to have the upper hand over the Waratahs in the fight to lure him east.

Asked what advice he would give the exciting utility back who is squarely in the Wallabies mix this year, Giteau was none too subtle in saying the 18-year-old's priority needed to be finding the best environment to develop his game.

O'Connor can command far more money in Perth with the Force but the Brumbies appear to have the best stocks of backline talent with Giteau and fellow Force half Josh Valentine moving to Canberra to join Test regulars Stirling Mortlock and Adam Ashley-Cooper.

"I think listen to the ones who are close to you, parents and family, and then make your decision where you think you are going to develop best rugby wise," Giteau said.

"I think that's the biggest thing for a guy of his age.

"He has to look at where he's going to develop the best because he could potentially be one of the great players but he could also be a great player when he was younger but didn't actually develop."

The Force are desperately trying to retain O'Connor by luring a big-name playmaker to the club to help mentor the Gold Coast product.

Giteau was speaking after controversial former Test coach Eddie Jones reported he'd heard O'Connor would link with the Brumbies because they would have the best backline and the Force "was run by Cowboys".

But in a conservative and player-friendly move, Force coach John Mitchell on Thursday chose to safeguard O'Connor's Wallabies hopes, as well as those of Richard Brown and Cameron Shepherd, by resting them from the emotional final round clash on Saturday night.

Mitchell said O'Connor (shoulder), Brown (ankle) and Shepherd (knee) could have all played with medical assistance.

"I think it's important to think about their futures," the coach said.

Mitchell wants to see his team finish as high as possible in the competition - they can finish seventh at best - with a win which would also provide a fitting farewell to Japan-bound loyal servants Tai McIsaac and Scott Staniforth, who will play his 100th Super rugby game.

Giteau, Valentine, Drew Mitchell and Tamaiti Horua will also pull on the Force jersey for the last time against the Highlanders in the club's last game at Subiaco Oval before they move to Members Equity Stadium in 2010.

Western Force: Drew Mitchell, Scott Staniforth, Ryan Cross, Josh Tatupu, Nick Cummins, Matt Giteau, Josh Valentine; Tamaiti Horua, David Pocock, Matt Hodgson, Nathan Sharpe (capt), Sam Wykes, AJ Whalley, Tai McIsaac, Pek Cowan. Res: Ben Whittaker, Troy Takiari, Tom Hockings, Richard Stanford, Chris O'Young, Junior Pelesasa, Haig Sare.

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