Force awaits O'Connor Super Rugby decision - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Force awaits O'Connor Super Rugby decision

Justin Chadwick 13/05/2011 05:09:07 PM Comments (0)

Western Force coach Richard Graham hopes the retention of his team's star-studded forward pack will convince James O'Connor to re-sign with the Perth-based Super Rugby franchise.

O'Connor is yet to decide where he will play next season, with the Force, Queensland Reds, Melbourne Rebels and Brumbies all in the mix.

A final decision is expected to be known by the middle of next week, after rumours rife last month that O'Connor had all but signed with the Rebels.

It now seems the Force and Queensland are the frontrunners to snare his signature.

The Reds have three massive advantages: scintillating form from their talent-laden list, O'Connor's family ties in Queensland and the retention of Quade Cooper, one of O'Connor's best mates.

But O'Connor has also enjoyed his time in Perth, establishing himself as one of the hottest prospects in world rugby during his four seasons at the Force.

And with the Force boasting the likes of David Pocock, Sam Wykes, Nathan Sharpe, Ben McCalman, Pek Cowan and Matt Hodgson in their forward pack, and possibly Richard Brown if he re-signs, Graham said the potential at the Force was enormous.

"If you look at the forwards alone, one thing within our program is we've got some of the best young forwards in the country," Graham told AAP on Friday.

"Melbourne, with the foreign law, are going to lose seven of their forward pack over the next one, two, three years.

"In terms of re-signing, you've got to look at the future.

"You've got to go somewhere where there's good quality footballers in your program.

"My conversation (with him) was based on the rugby program itself, his development at the Western Force, his position within the team going forward and what we believe we can continue to offer him as a rugby player.

"He is now making his decision based on what has been offered to him by us as an organisation."

O'Connor, who has scored a competition-leading 156 points so far this season, has previously stated his decision will be based more on rugby rather than money.

The Force sit 13th on the table after winning just three of their 11 games this season.

But Graham said the lowly ladder position was somewhat deceiving and shouldn't put dissuade O'Connor.

"We haven't achieved what we've set out to achieve," Graham said.

"But I think in seven of the 11 games, we've led at the 65th minute, so we know within ourselves we're extremely competitive."

Meanwhile, winger David Smith had left the door open for a return to Perth in time for the 2014 season, after signing with French side Toulon for the next two years.

"I have enjoyed every minute since I've been here (at the Force) and wouldn't hesitate about coming back if the opportunity was there in the future," Smith said.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2023 AAP

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