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Thread: Queensland Reds in shock bid for whiz kid James O'Connor

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    Queensland Reds in shock bid for whiz kid James O'Connor

    By Wayne Smith | June 19, 2009

    Article from: The Australian

    THE turmoil-ridden Queensland Reds have launched a dramatic 11th-hour bid to snatch teenage Australia hero James O'Connor back from the Western Force.

    In the same week as forwards coach Mark Bell and team manager Brendan Morris were sacked, the Reds belatedly entered the contest for O'Connor, 18, just when it seemed he was working through the final details before re-signing with the Force.

    Reds chief executive Ken Freer confirmed that he had spoken a number of times this week to O'Connor's agent, Anthony Piccone.

    "I know it's a fair way down the track with the Force and I respect that, but if there is an interest from O'Connor, we'd be very keen to talk to him," Freer said.

    It's not surprising that the Reds should make a pitch for O'Connor. He was, after all, a student of Brisbane's Nudgee College and his parents still live on the Gold Coast. But what is staggering is that the Reds should have left it so late to show interest in O'Connor after all the other Australian Super 14 clubs had fallen over themselves in the scramble to get his signature.

    Whether this late surge of interest is any way related to the uncertainty over the future of the Reds' primary recruiter Ben Whitaker is unclear as Whitaker was not able to be contacted on Thursday for comment.

    But it is understood he resigned in protest at the manner in which Bell and Morris had been treated. Freer, however, insisted Whitaker remained on staff - for the moment.

    "He had some reservations about what happened (to Bell and Morris) but at this point in time he hasn't resigned," Freer said.

    Whitaker has, by virtually any measure, the hardest job in Australian rugby, of trying to attract players to a team that has finished in the bottom three on the Super rugby ladder for six seasons.

    Far from being able to lure new talent to Brisbane, Whitaker has struggled to retain the players he has, with Hugh McMeniman having announced he is heading overseas and Digby Ioane threatening to leave.

    Ironically, Ioane is being touted as a possible Force recruit, barely 18 months after he broke his contract with the Perth team to return to Queensland because he felt homesick.

    While Wallabies five-eighth Berrick Barnes desperately wants to stay with the Reds, he has decided to defer his decision until he sees the outcome of the review process.

    And on Thursday, another Peter Rogers-managed player, former Test hooker Sean Hardman, followed suit, saying he would not make up his mind whether to continue his career until he had some idea in what direction the Reds were heading.

    When pressed on who it was conducting the review process, Freer offered up only one name - head coach Phil Mooney.

    That in itself is indicative of the state of Queensland rugby because, after two seasons at the helm of a team that has won only six of 26 Super 14 matches, Mooney should be the primary focus of the review, not the man conducting it.

    However, indications are that the players themselves have swayed the review. Immediately after the Super 14 season ended, the Reds players went through a two-week process in which they documented everything they felt had had an impact on their performance. Their input was collated and summarised and studied this week by senior staff.

    "They (the players) have certainly had a voice," Freer said.

    Bell's sacking has thrown open the question of who the Reds will recruit as their new forwards coach. It's a particularly exasperating question since former Wallabies set-piece coach Michael Foley could have been secured but was allowed to slip through Queensland's fingers for the Waratahs to snap him up.

    Freer insists the Reds are not targeting anyone and specifically have made no approach to World Cup coach John Connolly, even though he was one of a number of key Queensland rugby identities - along with Mooney, Jeff Miller, Alec Evans, Dick Marks, Andrew Slack, Roger Gould, Julian Gardner, Daniel Herbert and QRU chairman Peter Lewis - who took part in a round-table discussion on Wednesday night on the parlous state of the game in the state.

    But if Queensland hopes to retain Hardman, it might need to find a replacement for Bell sooner rather than later.

    "That would be one of the first questions I'd be finding an answer to," said Hardman, whose career will hinge on his planned meeting with Mooney.


    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au...015651,00.html

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    Interesting piece, but really, most of it's about Qld losing their forwards coach....it isn't particularly surprising that their forwards coach does after the season they've had, their forwards weren't competitive, and that spells the end for a coach.

    O'Connor will probably consider Qld over ACT, the weather's better, he has family, and a far better chance of a starting spot, better even than the Force, but will he get the ball? that's his primary concern with signing for the Force, which is why he's waiting for the #10 signature.....sure he'll play outside Berrick, so there's a bloody good flyhalf to feed him, but Qld have a different problem, will they secure the ball for the flyhalf to work with?

    Interesting times. James certainly doesn't owe us anything, I'd be happy to see him go to the Reds, but I'm not sure it's his best move right now!

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    C'mon the

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    Yeah, I must say I don't want to see the Reds fall apart, but a potential backline of Sheehan- Pretorius- Cummins-O'Connor-Cross-Ioane-Shepherd certainly gets me excited :-)

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    Discussion in The Australian Sports News room yesterday.

    "Hey Wayne, we need to fill a space in tomorrows paper and I've run out of ideas, you got anything?"

    "Yeah Brett, lets do something on the Reds in the hunt for James O'Connor, we haven't done that yet have we?"

    "Great idea Wayne, here's some old shit I have that you can fill it out with and then we can go to the pub."

    "Cool Brett, you go order me a pint and I'll finish this in 5 and join you"

    And there we have another hard day of investigative journalism at our esteemed national paper.

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    Digby is reported today as saying that he will be staying with the Reds (as is Daniel Braid - yay).

    Knuckles obviously is going to have some new senior role and I agree with Gigs that Bell had to go - the forwards didn't produce nearly enough this year.

    If a decent mentor can be got for the forwards, and some decent ball spun to the backs, it would likely be a reasonable outfit as the backline is pretty handy (and Rabbit would be a bit of icing on the cake).

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    Knuckles definitly having a new role at the Reds.

    Sort of like a fuse between the Rugby Staff and the QRU but also to instill some of that old Queensland Spirit back in the team.

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    He's going to be serving Bundy???

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    Senior Player tic's Avatar
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    Ah Bundy and Coke behind the McLean grandstand at Ballymore after the game. Thems were the days.

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    xxxx cans under the McLean Stand when the Reds have beaten the Tahs 48-10. Even better

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    Would help make the beer taste better anyway

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    I think the opening paragraph sums up why JOC cannot even be considering the option " THE turmoil-ridden Queensland Reds have launched a dramatic 11th-hour bid to snatch teenage Australia hero James O'Connor back from the Western Force" they could not snatch brown when things looked brighetr for them doubt they would get JOC

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    It's a good look - "Oh, yeah, we meant to get around to it but we lost the post-it note...so, want a job?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tazzmania View Post
    I think the opening paragraph sums up why JOC cannot even be considering the option " THE turmoil-ridden Queensland Reds have launched a dramatic 11th-hour bid to snatch teenage Australia hero James O'Connor back from the Western Force" they could not snatch brown when things looked brighetr for them doubt they would get JOC

    Don't believe that media crap. There is no turmoil - just a shake up of some assistant coaching positions. This is the media's usual way to try and grab attention.

    There are probably reasons why JOC may be interested in the Reds not least to get back home. In the end I think money will be the biggest factor though.

    ---------- Post added at 15:54 ---------- Previous post was at 15:53 ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyS View Post
    It's a good look - "Oh, yeah, we meant to get around to it but we lost the post-it note...so, want a job?"

    ...or maybe they have been in discussions for some time, but are downplaying it? I dunno.

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    Given the attention his contractual situation has gotten, I'd be amazed...they'd have to have some extremely tightmouthed units if so, which would be a massive novelty in a rugby organisation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tic View Post
    In the end I think money will be the biggest factor though.
    I'm not so sure Tic, if it was money, he'd have kept talking with the Brumbies enough to keep them on the hook. Surely having a competitor in the discussion would drive your price up......

    I think he's actually been saying what he feels in the press (unusual step) because his actions seem to gel with his words. I think he'll consider Pretorius as the guy who's going to be passing the ball to him and make a decision on the Force offer pretty soon. I'm reluctant to put a time on that, since I don't know how his preparations for test matches will fill his time.

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    C'mon the

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