Reds coach Richard Graham has denied James O’Connor has received a Super Rugby offer but is only looking at the exiled utility as a potential winger.
Queensland’s interest in James O’Connor is limited to the wing.
Reds coach Richard Graham denied speculation on Thursday that O’Connor had already received a Super Rugby offer but said he had just one position in mind for the exiled Wallaby utility.
A Wallabies skills mentor under Robbie Deans in 2009-10, Graham said the trouble-proned talent was best served as a winger, where he cut his teeth in Test rugby.
O’Connor, set to join French club Toulon from London Irish, also flourished at fullback but failed to thrive at five-eighth with Australia and the Melbourne Rebels.
“Based on the history, if we went down that path, he would be a winger,” said Graham.
“I was with him in 2010 with the Wallabies and I thought he was the best winger in the world at that point in time.
“Over time, potentially, moving from wing and fullback into the inside backs compromised his development.”
The bigger problem for Graham, who let O’Connor go to the Rebels in late 2011 when coach of the Western Force, is his history of misdemeanours and losing respect of teammates.
Striving to end a five-match losing streak and looking to add strike power out wide, Graham admitted his thoughts about the 23-year-old had shifted.
Queensland Rugby boss Jim Carmichael told AAP this week O’Connor, hoping to play at next year’s World Cup, was being considered to address the Reds’ back-three deficiencies.
“I’m open-minded,” Graham said.
“Certainly, there has not been any (offer) put to James.
“There’s absolutely no doubt about his footballing quality.
“There’s an (off-field) history there and it’s important as an organisation that you go through a process and do due diligence but that’s the same with any player.”
Graham admitted O’Connor was one of a “huge range of options” the Reds were eying to fill backline and back-row spots for 2015, but dismissed reports England-based former New York Jet Hayden Smith was among them.
Hard-working No.7 Beau Robinson is one back-rower aiming to improve his stocks, while at the same time celebrating a 50-game milestone for Queensland in an unchanged team on Saturday night against the Rebels.
Waratahs discard Robinson arrived at Ballymore in late 2010 just to train with the Reds, working as a barman to make ends meet, but went on to play a pivotal role in the 2011 title.
“It gives hope to everyone,” he said. “As you all wrote, it was a rags to riches story, although the riches aren’t there yet.”