O'Connor keen for No.10 jersey at Force - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

O'Connor keen for No.10 jersey at Force

By Justin Chadwick 16/02/2010 06:18:13 PM Comments (0)

Wallabies fullback James O'Connor has put his hand up to take on the Western Force's five-eighth role as the Super 14 team's injury woes continue to mount at an alarming rate.

The Force have begun a world-wide search to find a replacement for injured former Springbok Andre Pretorius after the ARU granted the Perth-based franchise special permission to supplant the marquee signing.

But a recruit won't be secured in time to take part in Saturday's clash with the Hurricanes in New Zealand.

And with one-Test Wallaby Mark Bartholomeusz sidelined with a neck complaint and utility back Sam Harris enduring a disastrous night in the No.10 jersey last Friday against the Brumbies, the Force's flyhalf stocks are paper thin.

But O'Connor, who starred at fullback in the season-opening 24-15 loss to the Brumbies, said he was willing to take on the flyhalf role until an adequate replacement was found.

"I'm happy to play wherever," O'Connor said on Tuesday.

"If the guys want me to play 10 I'll play 10, whatever's best for the team.

"I played a fair bit of 10 at school.

"I only changed positions when I came to the Force so I've got a bit of background there.

"The big thing for me is I love to get my hands on the ball as much as possible so if I play at 10 I guess I'll be able to control the game a little bit more.

"But like I said it's up to the coaches."

The current lack of options at five-eighth is only one area of concern for the Force, who must do without winger Cameron Shepherd (thigh) for six weeks and Wallabies No.8 Richard Brown (shoulder) for a yet-to-be-determined period of time.

Brown will undergo scans to determine the extent of the damage, with a worst-case scenario being a shoulder reconstruction and a season on the sidelines.

But the Force could welcome back a favourite son to ease the burden on the backline, with Scott Staniforth considering a return.

Staniforth left the Force at the end of last season to take up a lucrative contract in Japan but returned to Perth recently as is in talks with the Force.

"Scott's an awesome player and a good bloke as well so he'll definitely be a good leader in the team," O'Connor said.

Shepherd has endured a horrid run of injury since breaking his leg and dislocating his ankle while playing for the Wallabies in 2008.

The 25-year-old had set himself for a big season but that all came crashing to the ground when he injured himself while kicking during the warm-up of the season opener.

"It's pretty devastating for Cam," O'Connor said.

"He's done all the rehab and everything for his ankle to get right and he was in awesome condition so for this to happen it's pretty tough on him.

"But we've got a pretty big squad and I think we've got the guys to fill his position.

"We've got Dane Haylett-Petty who can slot into wing or fullback, Haig Sare.

"And Nick Cummins is back running around and is pretty hyped up, which is good to see."

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