James O'Connor linked with move to Premiership
October 23, 2013
James O'Connor has told Force officials he is heading to Europe © Getty Images
Out-of-favour James O'Connor intends to continue his career on a short-term contract in Europe, prompting Western Force officials to conclude discussions to re-sign him.
O'Connor's options have almost disappeared after he was dumped by the national side following repeated off-field ill-discipline and few clubs seemed interested in taking him on. His only real option seemed a return to the Force but even that appeared unlikely.
"We have been informed by James directly that he intends to continue his playing career in Europe for the time being," RugbyWA chief executive Mark Sinderberry said. "The Western Force and RugbyWA wish him well in these endeavours.
"The Western Force has laid strong foundations of standards and values - particularly around earning respect - and our discussions with James included on- and off-field programs that we believed could assist him in becoming the player he aspires to be and to develop himself as a person.
"James has made the decision that is right for him at this point in his playing career and the club remains open to recommencing these discussions again in the future if James wishes to return to Australian rugby."
O'Connor, who has been rumoured to be in discussions with at least one Aviva Premiership side, claimed to be in "final discussions" and would "announce thew partnership in the coming days". He added that "my management and I are continuing discussions with the Force about a longer-term partnership. I believe the move, for a few months, will be beneficial for me to develop in a different environment and help me be the best rugby player and person I can be."
In the last few days he has been linked with London Irish, but wherever he goes he is almost certain to have to take a substantial pay cut and then prove he can behave before he again becomes the sought-after player his talent suggests he should be.
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