McCalman wants O'Connor back at Force

Nick Taylor
James O’Connor meets young fans Marcus (6) and Ryan Cassidy (4) at Wallabies training at McGillivray Oval. Picture: Lincoln Baker/WA News

Wallabies back-rower Ben McCalman would welcome back James O'Connor and his new attitude at the Western Force next season.

O'Connor, who is expected to sign with the club that launched his Super Rugby career, is seeking a new home after being dumped by the Melbourne Rebels.

When his axing became public, McCalman said the Force would only take him back if he did not compromise the club's culture.

McCalman, who is preparing for Saturday night's Wallabies Test against Argentina at Patersons Stadium, now believes O'Connor has changed his ways and he would be happy to see him back in WA.

"He's obviously gone away and changed a few things," McCalman said.

"It's been nice to come into the (Wallabies) squad and hang out with James. I feel he's been great.

"I'm not sure what his plans are but hopefully you'll see him over here a bit more next year.

"Personally I'd love to see him over here.

"The performances he can put on the field are certainly something that will help the Force out next year."

O'Connor left the Force under a cloud in 2011 when the club ended contract talks amid claims and counter claims about his demands.

But the club's current chief executive Mark Sinderberry and coach Michael Foley are expected to have further talks with him this week.

McCalman said there had been a noticeable difference in O'Connor's approach since the British Lions series.

"At the time he probably was playing in a position (fly-half) where he came out a bit rattled or didn't think he had his best performance and he was a bit down on everything so his attitude wasn't great," he said.

"Now he's back in the back three where I feel he plays his best rugby. He's certainly enjoying his training a lot more and he is adding value off-field as well."

McCalman, who came off the bench for 19 minutes in the 38-12 loss to South Africa on Saturday night, will be hoping for a starting role against Argentina.

The Wallabies need to be more aggressive, particular at the breakdown, if they are to secure their first win of the Rugby Championship.

"When we did (move wide), we didn't take the ball forward first," McCalman said. "We went away from putting forwards to the ball and actually winning the ball before we went wide.

"It's everyone's role to win the breakdown whether you're carrying the ball or you're the supporting player.

"It's everyone's responsibility to win the breakdown.

"It's about playing together, not sending one-out runners, letting them try and do their best.

"It's about securing the ball."

"I'm not sure what his plans are but hopefully you'll see him over here a bit more next year.""Western Force back-rower *Ben McCalman *