Beale all set for O'Connor's Force - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Beale all set for O'Connor's Force

Justin Chadwick 07/04/2011 07:36:25 PM Comments (0)

Willie Ripia's return to fitness has robbed Waratahs maestro Kurtley Beale and Force whiz-kid James O'Connor of the chance to go head-to-head in Saturday's Super Rugby clash in Perth.

O'Connor and Beale are good friends and have been busy exchanging text messages this week to find out where each other will play in the must-win match for the Force.

Beale will once again play at 10 as Berrick Barnes continues his recovery from concussion.

But O'Connor will be moved from the key playmaker's role for the first time this season because Ripia has finally recovered from a foot tendon injury.

Although O'Connor has been shifted from five-eighth to fullback, Beale still expects to come up against the 20-year-old Wallabies star at some stage.

"He gave me a text last night just to see where I was playing and I asked him the same question, but we're good mates off the field and we'll probably catch up and have a coffee," Beale said before the Waratahs flew out of Sydney on Thursday.

"At (Wallabies) training in the last year or so I've always been up against him and I guess he'll be very challenging.

"No matter where he'll play he's always going to pop up in front of you somehow."

Beale admires the way O'Connor had adapted to the role of the Force's key playmaker in Ripia's absence.

"I knew he always wanted to get in a bit close and get his hands on the ball a lot more and he's proved that," Beale said.

"I guess it goes to show if you're keen and you believe in what you want to do and if you're very confident in what you do, then it can happen."

NSW coach Chris Hickey expects Beale to re-sign with the Waratahs soon, despite speculation the Force have tabled a lucrative offer for the 22-year-old to move west.

"We're not about trying to pressure people into making decision so the process sometimes takes a little bit longer, but we're happy with how it's progressing and pretty confident that Kurtley will still be in a Waratahs jersey next year," Hickey said.

Ripia's return and O'Connor's move to 15 has resulted in Cameron Shepherd being switched to the wing, with flanker Jono Jenkins included at No.7 to cover for injured Wallaby Matt Hodgson (shoulder).

The Force, with just a win and a draw to their name, have let three tight games slip through their fingers this season, but coach Richard Graham is confident they'll soon turn things around.

"I'd say (the problem was) a little lack of composure at times. We just need to play at the right end of the field," Graham said.

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