Force sign Springbok Andre Pretorius - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Force sign Springbok Andre Pretorius

By Justin Chadwick 19/06/2009 07:46:17 PM Comments (0)

Western Force coach John Mitchell is confident the signing of former Springbok five-eighth Andre Pretorius will convince teen sensation James O'Connor to remain at the Super 14 franchise.

Pretorius, who played 31 Tests for South Africa and was a squad member in their 2007 World Cup triumph in France, decided to head to Australia after falling out of the selection mix in the Springboks' set-up.

O'Connor, who will notch his third Test cap for Australia in Saturday's clash with Italy, is still yet to commit to the Force but had previously stated he would decide on his future once the Perth-based franchise secured a replacement for Matt Giteau.

Mitchell believed that now Pretorius was signed and secured, it would be just a matter of time before O'Connor did the same.

"Ultimately, we're pretty positive that we'll get James," Mitchell said on Friday.

"It's just a matter of time - contracting and negotiations are still down to the individual.

"We'll just have to play the waiting game. I am pretty confident.

"It's a very difficult time for an individual to be juggling contracting when they're playing for their country.

"Certainly at his age he needs to be focusing all his time on playing for his country and I think it's important getting closer to the game (against Italy) we allow him to do that."

While the Brumbies insist they have little chance to snare O'Connor, the Queensland Reds have made a belated pitch for the 18-year-old's services.

But with a big third-party deal on offer in Perth, O'Connor is unlikely to leave the Force, who bolstered their forward pack earlier this week with the signature of Wallabies prop Matt Dunning.

Pretorius, who made his Super debut in 2002 and compiled 645 points in 69 appearances for the Lions, will become the Force's marquee international player following the departure of New Zealand prop Ben Castle to Wales.

"This was one of the biggest decisions I have had to make in my professional career," Pretorius said.

"My loyalty has always been with the Lions ... they assisted me in becoming a Springbok.

"That's what made this decision difficult.

"I am excited about the opportunity to play for the Force.

"I believe that their structures and type of coaching can get me to perform at my optimal best.

"I will be surrounded by great players which makes it easy to focus only on what you have to do.

"Having experience is one thing, using it to your advantage is another and that's where I think the coach will play a big role."

Mitchell said Pretorius was a perfect fit for the Force.

"He's a very good attacking footballer, he's had experience at international level, he's closed out games that needed to be won by kick," Mitchell said.

"He possesses an all-round game that will suit us very well."

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