Rebels move a 'simple decision' for Genia

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Will Genia says his decision to join the Melbourne Rebels for 2018 and 2019 was a 'simple one', once he knew Queensland couldn't fit him in.

Genia was long adamant Queensland was his preferred destination for an Australian return, but with three halfbacks already on their books, the Reds could not accommodate the cost of their former nine.

"It was a simple decision because it didn't work out in terms of being accommodated at the Reds," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"So, I could've waited and waited until the 31st of December but I just decided to make a call and I'm pretty happy with my decision, pretty comfortable."

The 78-Test halfback spent last season in France playing with Stade Francais but opted to return to Australia for family reasons towards the end of 2016.

With Moses Sorovi, James Tuttle and Nick Frisby on contract, the $400,000 cost of matching Genia's national contribution to bring about his return was believed to be a bridge too far for the Reds.

The Rebels emerged as front runners last week, after Genia admitted he was still unsure where he would land in 2018, but that an announcement was on its way.

Will Genia was influential in Brisbane. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyThe Reds showed their frustration over the situation in a statement on Tuesday, saying they could not 'live beyond their means'.

"Given Will’s contribution to Queensland Rugby and the Reds, we obviously had considerable interest in him returning," QRU CEO Richard Barker said.

"However, we quite simply could not afford the figures presented to us by the ARU under the salary cap rules.

"The ARU, Will and his representative have been fully aware of this from the outset of discussions.

“This issue highlights the great divide between the professional game and the grass roots in this country – a divide the QRU is committed to improving.

“We’ve already announced the signing of a number of good developing younger players from our pathway  - including halfbacks - for 2018 and beyond.

“As a sport, we can’t continue to live beyond our means. We cannot risk a salary cap breach and we are committed to the ARU’s current contracting rules.”

Genia has no ill feeling towards the Reds, admitting he returned at an awkward time for Queensland.

"I think it's just the unfortunate nature of the situation," he said.

"That's where I wanted to go back and play but that's just the circumstances that we were given.

"I did come back at such an awkward time so at the end of the day I'm happy with my decision.

"I don't have any regret or I don't think or have any bad feeling towards the Reds or anything like that."

While he admitted he was waiting to make a final call until the ARU made a decision on whether the Rebels would be in Super Rugby for 2018, he was less worried about the fact they don't have a coach installed for 2018.

"'I think they're in the process of trying to interview some candidates now for that job and for me I wasn't waiting for those sorts of things, I just wanted to make a decision and I'm really happy with it and who ever's going to be the coach, I'll be looking forward to working with them," he said.

"I knew if I was going to play for another team that I'd like to go to Melbourne so I had to wait a little bit. I'd committed to them, it was just a case of waiting it out," he said.

Nic Stirzaker has overcome a head knockGenia will join Rebels captain Nic Stirzaker and Mick Snowden as the halfbacks in Melbourne, in what will make for an interesting selection dynamic come next year's Super Rugby season.

"I'm just more focused on preparing here well with the boys and getting ready to get stuck in but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it," he said.

Previously, the 29-year-old had played all of his 114 Super Rugby matches with the Reds.

Rebels CEO Baden Stephenson was delighted to announce the signing.

“Will is a proven winner who has performed consistently in every team has has played in at Super Rugby, European and international level,” Stephenson said.

“We are delighted he will join the Rebels and have great confidence that his skill set, experience and leadership will complement our squad very well.”

Genia is with the Wallabies preparing for this weekend's Bledisloe Cup.

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