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Reds best place for O'Connor: Faingaa

By Jim Morton 10/05/2011 04:44:02 PM Comments (0)

Reds centre Anthony Faingaa believes Queensland looms as the right place at the right time for Australian rugby's hottest property, James O'Connor.

Wallabies and Western Force whizkid O'Connor is set to decide this week where he'll play his rugby in 2012 and has indicated the four-way chase by Australian Super Rugby teams for his signature will come down to what's best for his football.

While the gifted 20-year-old has kept his cards close to his chest, the feeling remains in rugby circles he will stay in Perth.

But if the utility back should leave then the rising Reds, Australia's most entertaining and successful 2011 team, look the likely benefactor to boost their already star-studded backline ahead of the Brumbies and Rebels.

While possibly in the selection firing line if O'Connor, viewed as a likely Test No.12 for this year's World Cup, does arrive at Ballymore, fellow Wallabies back Faingaa would be delighted to have him on board.

In fact, Faingaa felt O'Connor would find it extremely hard to pass up the chance to play alongside Test halves Will Genia and Quade Cooper if rugby reasons are to rule his decision.

"James is a fantastic player and you can put him anywhere in a side and he'll go well," Faingaa said on Tuesday.

"For us it (success) is just building so if he came here for rugby reasons he'd be picking the right place to come to, (especially) playing with Quade and Will.

"He'd be great to have in the team but in saying that we've got some great players here as well and we're not relying on anyone coming or going."

The Brumbies have done their best to lure O'Connor with both coach-in-waiting Jake White and former playmaker turned assistant coach Stephen Larkham speaking a number of times with the Test winger, while the Rebels appeared to have their man three weeks ago.

Low-tackling, straight-running Faingaa has been an unsung hero as a great foil to Cooper in the midfield for the Reds since Ewen McKenzie took them from second last to fifth last year.

His adaptability has allowed McKenzie the luxury of considering three different players - Will Chambers, Ben Tapuai and Digby Ioane - for two positions beside him in the centres.

Faingaa has shared his time at inside and outside centre and his defence in either position, particularly, will be crucial in Friday night's top-of-the-table clash with the Blues at Suncorp Stadium.

The Auckland-based Blues are the last visiting team to have tasted success in Brisbane, winning a rain-soaked round three clash 27-18 last year when Rene Ranger carved up at outside centre.

Injuries in the Blues backline are likely to see Ranger shifted from the wing to the midfield again.

Reds vice-captain Genia rated the 105kg powerhouse alongside Ioane as one of the hardest players to tackle in the competition.

"He's like tackling a brick wall," the halfback said.

"I hope I don't have to tackle him. Hopefully Anthony has to tackle him."

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