Smith hopeful O’Connor will stay with Irish

LONDON Irish director of rugby Brian Smith intends to pull out all the stops to keep hold of full-back James O’Connor after the Australian’s latest masterclass.

O’Connor scored his first Exiles try and kicked 17 points in Saturday’s 22-9 triumph over Worcester Warriors.

The 23-year-old joined the club in October and while he is already being linked with a host of European sides, Smith hopes he will stay put.

“James is a world class player,” he said. “He’s coming from the cutting edge of international rugby and he’s got some good ideas.

“He’ll go back in January 2015 and play for the Wallabies in the build-up to the World Cup.

“We’re hoping to keep him until then, but there are some French clubs throwing ridiculous money at players.”

Elsewhere, league leaders Saracens beat Gloucester 29-8 at Kingsholm, London Wasps emerged 19-16 victors at home to Exeter Chiefs and Harlequins suffered a 23-9 defeat to Northampton Saints.

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