One of the brightest stars in the world game has admitted the presence of Danny Cipriani had a big influence on his decision to switch Super 15 sides.
Wallaby sensation James O’Connor confirmed he will swap Perth for Melbourne next season after announcing his departure from the Western Force and the 20-year-old has claimed the prospect of playing alongside Cipriani was a key factor in his move to Super Rugby’s newest franchise.
O’Connor, who has become an instrumental figure for the Australian national team since scoring a hat-trick of tries on his debut against Italy in 2008, admitted that the chance to be part of a free-flowing Cipriani-led Rebels backline was too good to turn down.
"You've got Stirling Motlock outside of me, Kurtley Beale at the back, who's been on fire of late, and Danny Cipriani inside, who is a world-class 10," said O’Connor.
"I've spoken with Danny quite a bit and he has that flair, but can also control a game. And with Kurtley out the back and Sterlo (Mortlock) the hard-angle running player it would allow me to be exactly what I want to be doing, which is being that link player, a ball-player, but with freedom to run.
"I'm going to be playing the position I want to develop as an international player. It's going to be a pretty unstoppable side, I think."
Despite establishing himself as one of the game’s most dangerous back-three players, the position O’Connor talks of appears to be inside centre.
That would see the youngster working closely with Cipriani if the former England international can resolve his differences with the Rebels hierarchy.
Cipriani has produced some superb individual displays during his short time in Melbourne but his first season of Super Rugby has been dogged by disciplinary issues.
Twice hauled over hot coals for breaking team protocol, the ex-Wasps star has been heavily linked with a move back to the Aviva Premiership.
The Rebels recently reinstated Cipriani after suspension, however, and O’Connor’s revelations suggest ensuring the wayward outside-half sees out the second 12 months of his two-year contract could now be a priority for the franchise.
The 24-year-old will be given a chance to show his commitment to the Rebels’ cause this weekend when he runs out for club side the Warringah Rats against Manly in a domestic derby.