O'Connor signs two-year deal with Rebels - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

O'Connor signs two-year deal with Rebels

By Melissa Woods 18/06/2011 04:15:05 PM Comments (0)

Wallabies' sensation James O'Connor has committed to helping the Melbourne Rebels climb off the bottom of the Super Rugby competition ladder by signing with the club for two years.

The 20-year-old utility back will link with good friend and Wallabies' teammate Kurtley Beale, who will leave the NSW Waratahs for the Rebels in 2012.

The star backline duo will dramatically strengthen a Rebels' line-up which has struggled this season, finishing in last position in their debut campaign.

The Rebels, who rounded off their year with their ninth successive loss - 27-14 to O'Connor's Force at AAMI Park on Friday night - also announced they had lured another Perth player, Mitch Inman, to Melbourne for two years.

They have also signed hard-working hooker Ged Robinson, one of the finds for the club, for a further two years.

O'Connor was expected to remain with the Force, where he had played the past four Super Rugby seasons, but negotiations broke down on Wednesday and he agreed to terms with the Rebels.

He also extended his contract with the Australian Rugby Union.

Ahead of this year's World Cup in New Zealand, Wallabies' coach Robbie Deans was thrilled to keep O'Connor in the Australian set-up for at least another two seasons.

Now a regular in the Test side, O'Connor started 2011 having played more Tests for his country (27) than he had played Super Rugby matches for the Western Force (25).

"This is great news. It provides certainty, both for James and for Australian Rugby," Deans said.

"While James has already made a significant impact in his career to date, there is a lot more that can be achieved and he is striving for that.

"We are all going to be working hard to make sure that there is a lot more to come."

O'Connor is the 18th existing Test player to extend his contract with Australian Rugby this year, with the threat of a mass exodus following the World Cup not eventuating.

"I never doubted his commitment to Australian Rugby and the Wallabies - that shows in his everyday work," Deans said.

"But James has been prudent in assessing all of his options, especially at state level, prior to determining what was best for him, and settling on his future path.

"That is one of his qualities. James is very attentive to the detail, both in his match preparation but obviously also in his life.

"He is thorough in his preparation and covers everything. That is a habit that has served him well to date in his career and will quite clearly be of benefit moving forward."

Rebels' chief operating officer Steve Boland said the acquisition of O'Connor was another important step for the club.

"James is one of the most promising talents in world rugby and we are delighted that he is joining the Rebels," Boland said.

"James' ambitions are very much in line with ours at the Rebels.

"We don't just want good rugby players, but also individuals who are willing to challenge themselves. Balance in life is an important part of our club."

Boland said today that Robinson's re-signing was as significant as any of the club's recent announcements.

"With a lot of hard work and a steely determination to succeed, Ged has become one of the club's most consistent performers this season."

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