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O'Connor hints at re-signing with Rebels
April 2, 2013

Star Wallabies playmaker James O'Connor says he doesn't see any reason to leave Melbourne Rebels, and has backed besieged coach Damien Hill to guide the Super Rugby club out of its lowest ebb.

Hill's future at the Rebels beyond this season is up in the air following the club's disastrous tour of South Africa. Not only were they walloped 64-7 by the Sharks and 34-16 by the Cheetahs, but star pair Kurtley Beale and Cooper Vuna were sent home in disgrace for their post-match punch-up.

Vuna has served his one-match suspension and is available for Saturday night's clash with the Western Force in Perth. But Beale has been suspended indefinitely, with the 24-year-old's history of alcohol-fuelled misdemeanours counting heavily against him.

The Rebels have won just one of their six games this season, and chief executive Steve Boland increased the pressure on Hill by stating the club would make a decision on the coaching position before the end of the season.

Hill, whose contract runs out this year, admits the team dropped the ball in recent weeks, but says the club is on the right track for future success.

"This will kick on to be a very good club," Hill said. "There are a lot of young players in this team coming through. The more adversity they go through and come out on the other side, the better the team will be. In any organisation the culture has got to come first."

"We are working very hard on it to get it right, and 95 per cent of the time we do get it right," Hill added. "Unfortunately, the five per cent of those times really has a big impact on the club and it does effect performance."

As revealed exclusively on ESPNscrum yesterday, O'Connor has been linked with a move to the Brumbies at the end of the season, but the 22-year-old claimed he knew nothing about those rumours.

"I've loved my time in Melbourne and at the moment I don't see any reason for leaving this place," O'Connor said. "There's a good group of guys. We're very tight. I've got a lot of friends here and I'm enjoying the organisation."

The Rebels' season continued to flounder in Bloemfontein (video available only in Australia)
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O'Connor said the team's disastrous season shouldn't reflect badly on Hill.

"I've got 100 per cent confidence in Damien Hill," O'Connor said. "All of the structures he's had this year have been spot on. Our game plan has been right there. It's been up to the playing group, and we haven't performed."

O'Connor played four seasons at the Force, and said he was looking forward to taking on his former side for the first time in Perth.

© AAP
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