Pat O’Connor signs with HSBC Waratahs


By Waratahs Rugby Media Unit


The HSBC Waratahs have moved swiftly to replenish their second row stocks with the acquisition of former Western Force lock Pat O’Connor on a one-year deal.
The acquisition of O’Connor, 25, fills the place in the squad vacated by NSW’s most-capped lock Will Caldwell, who is taking an extended layoff from the sport to concentrate on his battle with Crohns disease.
A product of Marist College Ashgrove, O’Connor was a member of the Reds Academy in Queensland before signing on to be a start-up player in the Force’s first season in 2006. Later that year he earned a place in Chris Hickey’s Australian U21 team as well as selection in the Prime Minister’s XV.
O’Connor’s career stalled when he required surgery on a serious injury sustained during the 2007 pre-season. Five months later, O’Connor reinjured the same knee which required further surgery and ensured he spent the 2008 Super 14 season on the sidelines.
He made his return for the Western Force on the 2008 Development Tour of England and was back playing Super 14 Rugby in 2009.
O’Connor is currently playing for Northland in New Zealand’s ITM Cup, the same team which fellow HSBC Waratahs lock Cam Jowitt played for in 2009. He made his debut for the province last season earning three caps and this year has started all nine matches to date.
He returns to Australia with hopes of not only resurrecting his Super Rugby career but still has eyes on higher honours in the future.
“I think anyone who makes it to Super Rugby level has aspirations of taking the next step and I haven’t lost any of that ambition to one day make the Wallabies,” said O’Connor. “The only way to do that is to be playing regular footy at that level and I’ve now got the chance to do that with NSW.
“I came to Northland with a view to playing at a high level and hope for an opportunity to come along, and now that it has I’m determined to make the most of it.”
Having followed O’Connor’s form closely throughout the ITM Cup, Hickey said he is confident O’Connor has what it takes to step up in 2011.
“When we were unsure about Will Caldwell’s availability for 2011 we put a few irons in the fire and we knew Pat was keen if an opportunity arose,” said Hickey. “Once we found out we’d be without Will next year, we spoke to Pat and he’s jumped at the chance.
 “I was lucky enough to coach him in the 21s a few years ago and he’s always had the physical attributes and the desire to go all the way.
“He’s certainly made the most of his opportunities for Northland and playing against top class opposition each week is certainly improving his football.”
O’Connor will join the HSBC Waratahs at the conclusion of the ITM Cup.
Position: Lock
Physical: 197cm, 114kg
Born: 7 January 1985, Brisbane QLD
School: Marist College, Ashgrove QLD
Club / Province: Hikurangi / Northland
Provincial Caps:
20 (Western Force 8, Northland 12)
Provincial Points: 0
Provincial Debut: 2006 v HSBC Waratahs (Western Force)
Super Rugby Caps: 8 (Western Force 8)
Super Rugby Points: 0
Super Rugby Debut: 2006 v HSBC Waratahs (Western Force)
Test Caps: 0






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