Vodacom Super 14

Force vow to go shopping

2009-02-24 09:26
Planning a shopping spree (Gallo Images)
Perth - Western Force coach John Mitchell says the club will attempt to "buy the best in the world" to shore up their Super 14 playing stocks in the wake of Matt Giteau's decision to return to the Brumbies next year.

According to the Australian Associated Press, Giteau's exit from the Force at the end of the season could spark a mass exodus from the Perth-based club, with Wallabies duo Drew Mitchell and James O'Connor already contemplating a move east.

John Mitchell, intent on showing the club could still attract the best players in the world, declared the Force would scour the globe in search of a high-profile replacement for Giteau.

Mitchell said 18-year-old O'Connor would be a future star in the No 10 jersey but needed more time at inside centre to develop his game.

"James is going to be a very good player," Mitchell said on Tuesday.

"He can play three positions but he's very young and needs to gain experience and the best way to gain experience is by playing but also being surrounded by a person who does have experience and that's a solution to arrive at.

"Most of the players that have become great flyhalves in the world, like Dan Carter and Matt, started their careers at 12 and moved into 10.

"It gives them time and space, and also allows them to give voice to their flyhalf and also for them to see opportunities to present themselves.

"So I see in time, as he develops that plus his kicking game, that he can become a very good flyhalf.

"In terms of our capability, we've still got a great opportunity to develop players and we've got a chance to now buy the best in the world.

"There are people that we are looking at in Australia and also (internationally) through the foreign policy marquee player concept that the ARU have provided."

With fears that Giteau's departure could create a domino effect of players leaving the club, the Force received a dose of good news on Tuesday when emerging flanker Sam Wykes agreed to a new two-year deal.

The 20-year-old, who is expected to be available for selection within a month after undergoing shoulder surgery last year, said he was happy to stay at the Force despite Giteau's looming departure.

"He's an awesome player and an awesome guy off the field but if I wasn't happy I wouldn't have signed for two years, so I'm very happy to stay," Wykes said.

"Matt's obviously a marquee player where people want to come play with him, but you've got guys like James O'Connor who are coming through and people will definitely want to play with him, so I reckon people might stay around, or should stay around."

Mitchell said Giteau would play out the season in the No.10 jersey.

"Right at this moment we've got to utilise the best flyhalf in the world ... we've got to maximise the strengths that he provides us," Mitchell said.


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