No shortcuts for Genia

International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Will Genia is not one for shortcuts and after 75 Tests, he says it’s an attitude drilled into him before he had even run out for one.

At Test level, it didn’t take the scrumhalf long to realise what it would take to stay in the national arena, following the lead of roommate Matt Giteau, who took Genia under his wing in his first camp.

Will Genia has plenty to thank Matt Giteau for. Photo: Getty Images“[Giteau was] one of my favourite ever players to play with because first and foremost quality player, quality person and he was someone who pushed me really, really hard in terms of training,” he says.

“[He] always made sure [you] never took shortcuts, you never copped out, you never gave up and you always tried hard, no matter what.”

Married and father to daughter, Olivia, rugby doesn’t hold the primary spot it used to in Genia’s priorities but he admits he is still obsessed in a sense with the sport.

The halfback is constantly searching to improve - it’s a quality that saw him seek out Mick Byrne at the start of 2016 to work on his passing one-on-one in France, months before Byrne joined the Wallabies set-up as national skills coach.

 

Pink is most definitely her favorite color. Luckily it's daddy's uniform ⚡️⚡️⚡️

A photo posted by Will Genia (@willgenia) on


“It definitely consumed me. To a point, it still consumes me now,” he says.

“There are days where I have off where I like to go and train, I like to go do extras, whether it be running or passing or kicking or things like that and I probably wouldn't be at this level if I didn't let it consume me to a point but I guess having my daughter now and being away from my family in Australia, living in Paris, you get a little bit more perspective and find that balance, which I think has certainly helped.”

With his Wallabies opportunities now largely dictated by his French club, Stade Francais, Genia’s enthusiasm for Test opportunities shone through on Spring Tour, where he featured in three of five Tests and it's an enjoyment that fathrehood has sharpened.

“It [becoming a father] puts it in perspective in the sense that it's not the most important thing in the world and I guess that helps with enjoying it a little bit more because you know that there's people out there in your life that matter more to you than a sport ever could,” he says.

“But in saying that, my family - for example, the last thing I think about before I go out and play is my daughter - I want her to be proud of me and the things that I do. - Will Genia

“Obviously when she's a little bit older, she can look back and be proud and say he was a good player, he worked hard, he did this and did that and that's something that really, really motivates me.”

At 28, Genia has the chance now to be the Giteau to the next Wallabies generation and he says watching the development of Australia’s young backline fills him with pride.

“It's fantastic to see those guys coming through because I remember when I was a young guy coming through you had the Stirling Mortlocks, the George Smiths, who were still playing and it's pretty amazing to then be in the position where you're the older guy seeing those guys come through and you feel a sense of pride to be a part of their journey.

Will Genia has been a star for the Wallabies  this season. Photo: Getty ImagesGenia has been a Wallabies captain and filed vice-captain duties throughout his career and though he’s content to let the rookies forge their own paths, but happy to offer advice when asked.

“I'll speak when I need to speak in terms of rugby where if I feel I can help in terms of a guys' positioning or mindset or things like that but a lot of the time guys know what it's all about,” he says.

“As a young guy coming through, you have so much energy , so much enthusiasm to just want to do everything and do anything and experience this, experience that, so you've just got to let guys do that because you don't want to be the old bloke just saying, 'don't do this, it's not going to be good for you in the long run,'.

“You want guys to experience those sorts of things along the way because that's what makes the journey special.”

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