11 Jul 2013

Force players wary of O'Connor bid

5:19 am on 11 July 2013

The Wallabies back James O'Connor must prove he can follow strict team values if he is to be welcomed back to the Western Force Super Rugby franchise.

The 23-year-old is one of Australia's brightest talents on the field, but his off-field behaviour has hurt his career prospects and he is on the lookout for a new club after being axed by the Melbourne Rebels.

The Waratahs and Brumbies have ruled out making a play for him, while the Reds seem uninterested leaving the Force as the only Australian option.

His Wallabies team-mate and Force No. 8, Ben McCalman, says they'd love to have O'Connor, but not at the cost of compromising the standards they had established over the last two years.

O'Connor left the Force two years ago in a move he hoped would enhance his "rugby brand".

Meanwhile, he has been relegated to the bench for his side's final Super Rugby game of the season against the Highlanders on Friday night.

The Rebels put out a team list on Wednesday saying O'Connor had been named on the bench as he had not trained with the team since being selected in the Wallabies for the British and Irish Lions Series.

The statement also said O'Connor would train for the first time at the Rebels captain's run on Thursday following an injury he sustained in the final Wallabies Test in Sydney.