Representative Honours: Australia Under-20s 2008, Australian Wallabies 2009-
Senior Tours: Japan & Europe 2009, Hong Kong & Europe 2010, RWC (New Zealand) 2011, England & Wales 2011, UK/Europe 2013
Queensland Reds scrumhalf Will Genia last year became just the 39th player to reach the prestigious 50-Test milestone for Australia, the accomplishment coming in the Qantas Wallabies third Bledisloe Cup match against New Zealand in Dunedin.
It was a deserving honour for the talented Queensland playmaker as he joined Qantas Wallabies greats George Gregan (139) and Nick Farr Jones (63) as only the third Australian scrumhalf to reach the mark.
His efforts in 2013 were magnified after a six-month layoff due to injury, with Genia announcing his return to international Rugby with a leading role in Australia’s three-Test series against The British & Irish Lions.
Genia was one of the key figures in Australia’s campaign, featuring in all but the last 10 minutes of the series. He also set up the first try of the series, taking a quick tap inside Australia’s 22 and breaking away down field before sending through a grubber kick for Israel Folau to score on debut.
He would go on to play in 14 out of a possible 15 Test matches in 2013, rekindling his partnership with good friend and fellow playmaker Quade Cooper throughout the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship campaign and in Australia’s highly successful Spring Tour, where they won four of five games.
Australia’s third-most capped halfback, having in 2012 gone beyond the 37 Test appearances made by his predecessor Luke Burgess; Genia missed the end of the 2012 season after damaging his ACL against South Africa in September.
He returned in round five of Super Rugby last year and regained his starting role with the Queensland Reds, with his form demanding selection for the series against the British & Irish Lions.
One of two Australian nominees for the 2011 International Rugby Board Player of the Year award, alongside openside flanker David Pocock, Genia showcased his importance to the Australian cause by producing a superb individual performance as the Wallabies beat Wales 27-19 last June to bounce back emphatically from the upset loss to Scotland five days earlier. The performance set up what became an eventual 3-0 series whitewash of the reigning Six Nations champions.
An established member of the Qantas Wallabies, and Queensland Reds captain when James Horwill is injured, Genia became the 78th Test captain of Australia when he led the side against the United States of America at the Rugby World Cup. The honour, which saw the now 25-year-old become the 13th player to captain Australia in a World Cup match, and the seventh Queenslander among that group; continued the rapid transition Genia has made from rising star into a genuine leader in Australian Rugby.
Plucked from the Queensland reserves bench when first brought into the Wallabies in 2009, Genia has steadily grown as a player and a leader, invariably producing the big plays when they are needed most. This was the case during the first Test win over Wales last June, where he scored a try himself and then set up Pat McCabe with a rocket pass that put the inside centre into a gap for the match-sealing score. That followed the 2011 Tri Nations decider where Genia scored the winning try as Australia beat New Zealand in Brisbane to claim the title for the first time in a decade.
So much does the diminutive but assertive halfback relish Tests at Queensland’s citadel of sport; three of his seven Test tries have come at Suncorp Stadium, with the tries being scored in the last three Tests that Genia has played there. The Genia ‘love affair’ with big occasions at Suncorp is not just limited to Tests, and showed through in the 2011 Super Rugby final against the Crusaders, with the lively halfback providing a fine solo try which helped the one-time cellar-dwelling Reds achieve their maiden title in that competition. That try, which came after an amazing 60m dash, was the second of two that Genia scored during wins over the All Black-laden Crusaders at Suncorp that year. Such was the level of Genia’s feats for the Reds during their title run; he was unquestioned as Australia’s Super Rugby Player of the Year.
The Genia partnership in the halves with flyhalf Quade Cooper has returned a healthy dividend – both for the Reds, but also for Australia. The pair are instinctive as to each other’s whereabouts on the field, which has served to make them a dangerous combination. Leadership is something Genia became well versed in after standing in as captain at the Reds in 2010, when Horwill was ruled out through a season ending injury. He led the team for all but two of the matches as Queensland started its resurgence by finishing fifth – which was the state’s best Super Rugby placing in a decade prior to the following year’s maiden title. Genia then led by deed as a loyal lieutenant for Horwill as the Reds kicked on in 2011.
After making his Test debut as a replacement in the Tri Nations opener at Eden Park in 2009, Genia gained his first start when Australia stunned South Africa 21-6 at Brisbane later in that year’s series, reversing a heavy defeat against the eventual Tri Nations winners from the previous weekend in Perth. Man of the match during Australia’s 18-9 win over England at Twickenham later in 2009, Genia has twice appeared for the Barbarians in recent years during the famous invitation club’s wins over New Zealand (2009) and South Africa (2010), but played against them for the first time when the Qantas Wallabies beat the Baabaas 60-11 on the brief Spring Tour two years ago.
Born in Papua New Guinea but schooled at Brisbane Boy’s College, where he boarded, Genia is the son of Kilroy Genia, a former Justice and Foreign Affairs Minister in the PNG cabinet. Will is one of three halfbacks in the family, with older brother Frankie having played Test matches for the PNG Pukpuks, while younger brother Nigel is a former Queensland Schools rep and acted as back up for the Reds this year while Will was injured.
Although he is known to all and sundry as Will, Genia was actually christened Sanchez by his parents. Will is his second name.