O'Connor heading to Europe

Date published: October 23 2013

Australia back James O'Connor has quit talks with the Force for a move to Europe, with London Irish reportedly favourites to sign him.

Australia back James O'Connor will not play in Super Rugby next year after quitting talks with the Force for a move to Europe.

The 23-year-old had his contract with the Australian Rugby Union terminated following a string of off-field incidents this year.

A return to the Force was O'Connor's only in Super Rugby after leaving the Melbourne Rebels at the end of last year, but according to the Perth outfit O'Connor is now looking elsewhere.

A report in The Australian states that London Irish in the Aviva Premiership are favourites to sign O'Connor. The club are run by Australian director of rugby Brian Smith.

“Western Force's discussions with James O'Connor on a possible return to the club in 2014 have come to an end following his decision to take up a playing opportunity in Europe,” read a statement from the Force.

“The Force had been in talks with O'Connor with the possibility of the utility back returning to the club in accordance with the non-negotiable standards and values the club has worked hard to put in place.

“Following the Australian Rugby Union's decision to not offer him a contract in 2014, the Force encouraged him to take time away from rugby to consider his playing future and to assess if he felt his development would be best achieved in Australian rugby.

“We have been informed by James directly that he intends to continue his playing career in Europe for the time being, the Western Force and RugbyWA wish him well in these endeavours,” added RugbyWA CEO Mark Sinderberry.

“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.”