Departing players cherish time in Wallabies jerseys

by staff

Whether or not Wallabies halfback Will Genia plays in a gold jersey again, he says he will always be proud that he was a part of the 2015 national team..

Genia will travel to France on Monday to begin his contract with Stade Francais, where he signed before the new ARU eligibility changes were made .

Genia is one of five Wallabies to be based overseas after this World Cup, but still eligible to play for Australia, along with Adam Ashley-Cooper, Sekope Kepu, Drew Mitchell and Matt Giteau.

World Cup squad members Quade Cooper (Toulon) and Wycliff Palu (Toyota Verblitz)  will also be going to Europe as will a potential replacement for Genia in Nic White (Montpellier),  but those three just under the 60-cap threshold required to stay eligible.

Genia said in the lead-up to the final that he was not expecting to play another Wallabies Test, with an overseas move reflective of his changing priorities and mindset.

For now, the 27-year-old said he would always hold on to the memories he has shared with this 31-man squad, returning to be its first-choice halfback after a challenging last two years.

“I’m just incredibly proud to have been a part of this team,” he said.

“This group’s been part of changing perception of the Wallabies and transforming it into the team that it is now that everyone’s so proud.

“For me my lasting memory will be that I was a part of the change and a part of this great team.”

Genia said the foundations that had been laid in this tournament would continue to grow in the coming seasons.

“It’s still one that’s very much based on the foundation of wanting to make the Australian public proud of the way we want to play the game and the things we do, how we carry ourselves,” he said.

“You can’t just leave it be now after a Rugby World Cup, you need to build  it.

Kepu, who is moving to Bordeaux, admitted it would be a “weird” situation next year in regards to international representation.

The veteran prop, like Genia, made the call to move before the shift in laws and had in many ways processed the finality of his decision and the sacrifice of giving up the Wallabies jersey.

"For me the journey to get here and how hard we worked, the bonds that we’ve built over the last 11 months has been something that i’ll really, really miss," he said.

"It's something that I’m really grateful to be a part of.

:This team’s going places and there’s a lot of guys still hanging around, there’s a lot of talent still left at home, that can fill spots of guys moving overseas like myself.

“My family’s the reason why I made the decision to leave and I’ve always said we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

“At this stage for me, it’s a bit of a weird situation but we’ll see how we go.”