Genia "glad" to see Cheika retained as Wallabies coach

International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Rebels scrumhalf Will Genia is happy Michael Cheika has not been removed as Wallabies coach and says the addition of Scott Johnson to the national setup is a logical move for Australian rugby.

Genia has enjoyed some of his career-best Test form under Cheika and said he was pleased that the national coach would be able to see out his contract through to the end of the Rugby World Cup.

After a review of the Wallabies coaching set-up last month, Rugby Australia announced Johnson would be coming in as director of rugby.

Despite speculation he was was under pressure, Cheika's role as head coach was not changed and he oversaw a Wallabies pre-season camp in Sydney last week.

“(I'm) just glad that Cheik's still going to be the boss,” Genia told RUGBY.com.au.

“He's one of the best coaches, if not the best coach, that I've had and he's been in place for a while so he's obviously got a plan as far as what he wants to do and he's had that plan from the get go, as far as 2019 being the goal, and he's a really good coach.

“He's putting stuff in place that I know will pay dividends by the time we get to the World Cup.

“From a stability perspective as well, it's nice to have that consistency in and around the coaching staff too.”

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Genia has had little to do with the incoming Johnson, who is set to officially start in March after finishing his current role with Scotland, but the 31-year-old said the structure was one that had been successful around the world and it was a sensible decision for Australia.

“I think when we played Scotland I shook his hand but that's about it," he said.

“I think just the fact that it's been a model that's been used all around the world with success, it's nice to see that obviously we try to bring in some form of change because what we're doing at the moment isn't working from a results perspective and we're ultimately judged by wins and losses.

“So, the fact that teams around the world are using it and using it with success, it's nice to see that we're taking that leap.”


Johnson's arrival isn't the only change for the Wallabies this year - the core of the squad was part of a national conditioning camp in Sydney in recent weeks, aiming to give the Test players a chance to build up their fitness before Super Rugby.

It's a departure from recent years where Test representatives would go straight back into club training a month behind many of their younger teammates and a shift that Genia welcomed.

"It makes a huge difference," he said.

"We come back here, we go straight into rugby training and it's almost like "do your best".

"You can just pick up some S&C extras afterward, a couple of sets of MAS (Maximal Aerobic Speed) running or whatever it is.

"Whereas to actually go into that camp and be like 'alright boys, we're going to focus on getting you fit, getting you fast, building up a tolerance in your legs', purely by just running, that actually puts you in good condition to come back and train and play rugby and then you can just pick up the one or two extras after the session and that be enough."

As part of that camp, Genia said, players had the opportunity to focus more specifically on elements like speed, working with former England sport scientist Dean Benton.

"It was just different ways of training that we haven't done in a while and because his specific field is speed and acceleration, he can purely concentrate on something like that," he said.

"Having guys like him come in, whether it's around that or also around kicking, passing, whatever else it might be, I think it might really help us develop those parts of our game."

Genia is likely to play in his third Rugby World Cup come this September and though he is off-contract at the end of the year the 100-Test halfback is leaning towards staying in Australian rugby beyond that, enjoying somewhat of a career renaissance in Melbourne.

“I've got the option to stay, I'm having conversations with Rugby Australia and the Rebels and I'm pretty interested in staying but then obviously I'm not going to close other doors, whatever I might be whether it's going overseas or whatever,” he said.

“I'm really enjoying my time here and it's just made me really enjoy the game a whole lot more in a pure way.

“I feel like I'm happy and enjoying it, there's no real need to look elsewhere or that sort of thing so I'll see, hopefully we’ll get something sorted soon.”

The Wallabies will play their first 2018 Test on July 20 in Johannesburg before taking on Argentina on July 27 in Brisbane.