Western Force are prepared to talk with wayward star James O’Connor about a return to Australia for World Series Rugby.
But they insist that the former Wallaby, who infamously left the Force for the Melbourne Rebels eight years ago claiming it would improve his “brand”, would need to make the first approach.
He would also have to show that he was a reformed character after his poor off-field record.
Former Force captain Matt Hodgson, now head of elite performance, said he would be happy to talk with O’Connor.
“He is the type of player, if he was interested in coming back to Australia, that we would be interested in,” Hodgson said.
“We would have a conversation but there has been no direct dialogue.”
O’Connor made 44 Wallabies appearances before being cut loose by Rugby Australia in 2013 after he was prevented from boarding a flight to Bali at Perth airport.
The Force offered him a lifeline after that incident but he moved to London Irish.
He is currently signed with English club Sale but would need to be playing in Australia to qualify for next year’s World Cup.
He took to Instagram this week saying he was ready to “bleed green and gold” and had faced his “darkness” at a meditation and sensory-deprivation retreat in Iceland where he has been recovering from an ankle injury.
The Force have already been in talks with former Wallabies currently in Europe and Japan including 103-Test veteran Matt Giteau, Adam-Ashley Cooper and Lachie Turner.
WSR, bankrolled by mining magnate Andrew Forrest, wants to lure some of the 150 Australians playing overseas – 75 per cent with Super Rugby experience – back for next year’s competition.
The Force is set to battle seven teams, two from Japan and one each from New Zealand, Fiji, Hong King, Singapore and Western Sydney, for a $1 million purse.