O'Connor must admit shortfalls: Michael Foley
July 13, 2013
James O'Connor's world has turned upside down in the past week © Getty Images
James O'Connor must admit his shortfalls if he wants to realise his potential on and off the field, Western Force coach Michael Foley says as the playmaker seeks a new club after being axed by Melbourne Rebels. With the Brumbies, New South Wales Waratahs and Queensland Reds not interested in O'Connor's services, he must secure a deal with Western Force if he is to continue his career in Australia.
O'Connor's chequered history - which includes late-night outings with Kurtley Beale, missing team engagements while on Wallabies duties, and a bitter departure from the Force two years ago - counts against him, but Foley is keen to give him a chance to present his case and will meet the 40-Test player face to face at some point over the next week.
O'Connor remains one of Australia's most talented players and the 13th-placed Force would love someone of his calibre to spark their backline, but Foley is adamant they will consider signing him only if he agrees to abide by their strong team values and standards.
"Any sort of education process becomes a lot easier when the person being educated actually accepts that there's a requirement to do so," Foley said. "That's the biggest challenge.
"We do know that a couple of the Wallaby boys were out at 4am in the morning at a burger joint. We do know a couple of Wallabies missed the team bus for training. And we do know a couple of Wallabies missed the team meeting on the Sunday after the [Lions] Test match. All of those things are very simple things that, in my opinion, wouldn't be acceptable here. But again, that's not imposing something on somebody. It's getting them to recognise why those things are important to the team. We can't be negotiable on those things. It's not a matter of hitting someone over the head with a stick. It's a matter of saying: 'This is where we're headed; how does it suit you?'."