O'Connor angers Force
Playmaker to leave after club withdraw club offer
Last Updated: June 15, 2011 7:01am
O'Connor: Will leave Force after failing to agree a new deal
Western Force have criticised James O'Connor after announcing the Australia playmaker would be leaving at the end of the season.
The Force have withdrawn their offer of a new lucrative contract for the 20-year-old after four-and-half months of negotiations.
And although O'Connor had given an 'in principle' indication of his desire to remain in Perth, failed to agree terms by Wednesday's deadline.
As a result O'Connor will now leave the franchise, with Melbourne Rebels the favourites to now tie-up a deal.
"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."
Vern Reid Quotes of the week
However Western Force chief executive Vern Reid has fired a parting shot at O'Connor, who will not play in the Force's final match of the season against the Rebels because of suspension.
"We presented James with extremely generous terms which reflected his talent and standing at the Emirates Western Force," Reid said.
"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.
"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."
Force coach Richard Graham echoed Reid's sentiments at the departure of O'Connor, who played 38 times following his debut as a 17-year-old back in 2008.
"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."