Force withdraw O'Connor offer
Western Force chief executive Vern Reid fired a parting shot at James O'Connor after announcing the club had withdrawn their offer of a new deal to the star playmaker.
It was revealed last week that the 20-year-old had given an 'in principle' indication of his desire to remain in Perth, provided he and the Force could agree on the length of a new contract and to salary terms. But the Force has claimed a deadline for a resolution of 9am on Wednesday, set after four-and-a-half months of negotiations, had passed without word from O'Connor's advisors. As a result the club withdrew its offer.
Reid said: "We presented James with extremely generous terms which reflected his talent and standing at the Emirates Western Force. We were fully committed to giving James every opportunity to continue his development through the rugby programme in Western Australia, however, it is clear his final decision has been based on other factors.
He added: "We're still a young club and it is fundamental in our development that everyone is committed to building a cohesive culture that defines a 'team' ethos.
"The terms being imposed by James' management did not correlate with that objective."
"It is with a great deal of regret that we will farewell James, however, we can be certain that we did everything we could to retain his services and that our offer was fair and reasonable and in the best interests of the Emirates Western Force and rugby in WA."
O'Connor played 38 times for the Force following his debut as a 17-year-old back in 2008 and has gone on to represent Australia. And, while he is also disappointed to be losing O'Connor, coach Richard Graham echoed Reid's sentiments.
"We all know that James is a wonderfully-talented player. However, the terms that were being asked of us by his management were, in our view, unacceptable irrespective of the player in question," Graham said.
"We have a strong belief in our rugby programme and that is evidenced by the number of international-capped players being produced out of WA.
"James has been one of the beneficiaries of that programme and we were certain he could continue to grow within the environment we've created here."