Force confident of retaining O'Connor - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Force confident of retaining O'Connor

Justin Chadwick 13/04/2011 04:35:55 PM Comments (0)

Western Force coach Richard Graham is confident the Perth-based Super Rugby franchise has enough going for it to convince in-demand star back James O'Connor to stay.

The tug-of-war for O'Connor's services is set to heat up over the coming weeks, with the Melbourne Rebels and Brumbies reportedly lining up big-money offers in their bid to nab the exciting 20-year-old.

The Force's bid to hold onto O'Connor hasn't been helped by their on-field woes, with the club sitting last in the Australian conference after posting just one win and a draw from seven matches.

But Graham hoped the re-signing of skipper Nathan Sharpe for another season plus the Force's ability to keep players in the international spotlight would convince O'Connor to extend his stay.

"I think Perth have been very good to him over the past four years," Graham said on Wednesday.

"He's become a Wallaby, he's established himself as one of the best young footballers from Perth.

"He's got a very good group of loyal friends.

"So I think all those things together will convince him to stay."

Sharpe, who re-signed with the club on Wednesday, didn't rule out playing on into the 2013 season.

The Force hope fellow Wallabies O'Connor, Matt Hodgson and Ben McCalman will follow the lead of their 33-year-old captain by re-signing with the club.

O'Connor was on a drip earlier this week as he battled a viral infection but Graham said his star charge would be ready to go against the Brumbies in Canberra on Sunday.

"He's a resilient little fella and mentally tough," Graham said.

"So if it knocks him about early in the week it won't have an effect on the backend."

Cameron Shepherd, who copped a heavy knock to his head in last week's 31-3 loss to the Waratahs, will have to pass a fitness test later in the week before being given the all clear to take on the Brumbies.

Sharpe, who with 139 Super matches to his name is the competition's most capped player, said it was an easy decision to re-sign with the Force.

"West Australian rugby has been fantastic for me ... so it was a no brainer really," Sharpe said.

"I'm motivated and feel great physically. I'm just enjoying playing rugby.

"While this year hasn't panned out as we'd all like, the potential is tremendous.

"There are a great bunch of guys here, a good coaching staff as well, and I'd like to be part of the success I know this club can achieve."

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