Force

O’Connor looks to rebuild with one year Force contract

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Emirates Western Force lock Pat O’Connor has inked a new one-year deal with the club that will see him remain in WA through the 2009 season.


O’Connor, who won six Super 14 caps in his rookie season of 2006, has taken the first step towards rebuilding his career after missing the entire 2007 and 2008 seasons through knee injuries.


Born in Brisbane, O’Connor was a major find for the fledgling team in the 2006 season, starting at lock on three occasions after making his debut against the Waratahs at Subiaco Oval.


Primed for a second campaign in 2007, the 23 year old’s season ended before it had begun when he ruptured the cruciate ligament in his knee at training prior to the opening trial match.


Tragically, five months after the resulting surgery, the man they call ‘Beef’ slipped and re-tore the ligament leading to a second knee reconstruction which crushed his hopes of a comeback this season.


Finally fit, O’Connor said he was delighted to be given the opportunity to mount a comeback to Super 14 rugby with a new Emirates Western Force contract.


‘I really like being here, both in Perth and with the Emirates Western Force, and I’m excited about 2009,’ O’Connor said.


‘The last 18 or so months have been very difficult and extremely frustrating; doing rehabilitation and watching the boys play some good footy.’


‘I’m extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to stay with the club,’ he added.


‘They’ve shown a lot of faith in me and I’m really hoping to repay that by getting back on the field and putting in some good performances.’


After watching Tom Hockings and Sam Wykes emerge as future representative players in the lock forward ranks at the club this season, O’Connor admits he will have to work hard to force his way back into the team.


‘Sharpie (Nathan Sharpe) and Hocko (Tom Hockings) both had excellent seasons, and Sam Wykes is a terrific talent, so there’s plenty of competition there for places in the team,’ said O’Connor.


‘But I think it’s a healthy situation for the team and I’m looking forward to the challenge of getting back into the side,’ he said.


RugbyWA General Manager Community Rugby and Junior Development, Mitch Hardy, said the organisation sees plenty of potential in the burly 114kg lock.


‘A fit Pat O’Connor gives us plenty of depth at the lock position, with Sharpe, Hockings, Wykes and Pusey all proven at Super 14 level,’ said Hardy.


‘Pat has had a shocking run with injury and we’d love to see him back in the Emirates Western Force jersey and fulfilling the potential that was very evident in his rookie season.’


O’Connor said he hoped to repay the EWF coaching staff for their support throughout his rehabilitation.


‘Mitch (John Mitchell) and the coaching staff were very good in keeping me ‘up’ during some pretty dark times so I’d love nothing more than to repay them by getting back on the paddock and playing well.’


O’Connor’s last competitive match was in November 2006 for an Australian Prime Minister’s XV against Japan. He has also represented Australia at Under 21 level.


FACT FILE


Pat O’Connor
Position: Lock
Physical: 1.97m, 114kg
Age: 23 (Born 7/1/85 in Brisbane)
Super 14 Caps: 6
Super 14 Points: Nil
Super 14 Debut: 2006 v Waratahs, Perth.
Representative Honours: Prime Minister’s XV (2006), Australian Under 21s (2006)

 

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