May 15, 2009 - 7:10PM
Wallabies ace Matt Giteau has backed the Western Force's ability to foster young star James O'Connor's talent as he bids his own goodbye in the Super 14 clash with the Highlanders on Saturday night.
With the majority of the Force players now having re-signed or decided to move on, 18-year-old backline sensation O'Connor is yet to decide where his future lies.
Brumbies-bound Giteau knows all about being a youngster with plenty of hype and has encouraged him to make the best decision for his future, but sees no reason he can't develop strongly at the Force, like young Wallabies David Pocock and Richard Brown.
"Where he will develop best is the biggest thing for a guy his age because he potentially could be one of the great players," said Giteau.
"He could also be just a guy that was a great young player but didn't actually develop.
"He could develop here with the Force, someone like Richard Brown got the opportunity here and now has played Test rugby.
"If you look at that, it shows the development is here.
"He just has to personally be hard on himself and closely critique his game.
"A lot of people will say he's playing really well, but as long as he realises there are errors to work on, he will keep developing."
Saturday's clash at Subiaco Oval means little with both the Force and Highlanders out of the top four race, but it is a chance for the Perth-based team to say a fond farewell to a host of stars in the team's last game before moving to the rectangular Members Equity Stadium next season.
The departures include Brumbies-to-be Giteau and Josh Valentine, Waratahs-bound Drew Mitchell along with Tai McIsaac, Scott Staniforth, Ben Castle and Tamaiti Horua who are all heading overseas.
Winger Staniforth, who has 12 Test caps, will play his 100th and final Super rugby match before heading to Japan.
The 31-year-old finishes his career in tremendous form and predicts a strong future at the Force after an emotional night on Saturday.
"It's the end of my Super 14 career, so there is a bit of sadness but there's an exciting challenge ahead. To finish on 100 is quite special," Staniforth said.
"Whenever you get a big group of players like this leaving it is a bit emotional because it's the last chance to play together. We are looking forward to going out on a good note.
"There's a big future here and the young guys that have signed like Pocock, Brown and hopefully O'Connor are the future of the club."
© 2009 AAP