O’Connor commits to the ARU and the Force

The Emirates Western Force has secured one of the game’s hottest young prospects, James O’Connor, until the end of 2011.

 

As O’Connor has signed until the end of 2011 the ARU have secured him for the 2011 Rugby World Cup and he will play for the Force in the upcoming Super 15.

 

The 19-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise in Australian Rugby in just over 16 months, beginning when he became the youngest ever Super14 debutante in April 2008 and culminating in a hat-trick of tries in his run on debut for the Wallabies in Canberra earlier this year.

The Nudgee College product etched his name in the history books by becoming the second youngest player to ever pull on a Wallabies jersey during the 2008 Spring Tour.


His star continued to rise with a stunning first full year of Super Rugby with the Emirates Western Force, scoring five tries in ten matches this season, appearing at both inside centre and fullback.


He has since become a permanent fixture in Robbie Deans’ team in 2009, and will line up at fullback tomorrow night against the Springboks in his ninth Test.


The one-time Parramatta Eels rugby league junior switched to the 15-man code just three years ago and has made an immediate impact with his skill, speed, and innate ability to find the tryline.


RugbyWA General Manager, Rugby, Mitch Hardy, said O’Connor’s decision to stay in the west was great news for the club.


“James is an outstanding talent, and we are delighted to have him on board until the end of 2011,” Hardy said.


“The retention of James was a crucial piece of the puzzle in terms of the make up of our squad for the future.


“The form he has shown in both Wallaby gold and Force blue vindicates his decision to come to WA before the 2008 season, and we believe he can develop even further with the likes of Andre Pretorius, Ryan Cross, Brett Sheehan and Cameron Shepherd around him in the backline with Richard Graham and John Mitchell driving them on.


“No doubt, after months of negotiations, it’s a weight off his shoulders and fantastic news for the Emirates Western Force and the club’s supporters.”


O’Connor said he was happy to have the deal done so he could focus on playing rugby.


“I love the culture at the Force. It feels like a family among the playing group,” O’Connor said.


“We have a young group too which is going to thrive. We have young Wallabies like David Pocock, Pek Cowan, Richard Brown and myself who will bring back a lot of what we’ve learned this season.


“Another big factor for me was that going forward with the Force I want to jump into more of a leadership role. I want to get more involved in the team dynamics and play a bigger role within the team.


“The coaching staff too has been great over the past couple of seasons and bringing on Richard Graham to assist with the backline next season will, I’m sure, add a lot to my game.”


FACT FILE


James O’Connor
Position: Inside Centre/Fullback
Physical: 1.80m, 87kg
Age: 19 (Born 5/7/1990, Gold Coast, QLD)
Super 14 Caps: 14
Super Rugby Points: 32 (6t, 1c)
Super Rugby Debut: 2008 v Reds, Brisbane
Test Caps: 8
Test Points: 22 (3t, 2c, 1p)
Test Debut: 2008 v Italy, Padova
Representative Honours: Australian Under 16s (merit team, 2006) Australian Schoolboys (2007), Wallabies 2008-

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