Genia fuelled by unfinished business

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

If the Wallabies had won the World Cup final last year, Will Genia might not have been sitting at the SCG on Thursday afternoon talking about breaking a Bledisloe drought.

In fact he may not have been in Australia at all, having signed with French club Stade Francais at a time when ‘Giteau’s Law’ didn’t exist and moving overseas spelled the end of Test duties.

Dane Haylett-Petty is the only new face in the Wallabies backline compared to the World Cup final. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley“I kind of figured I was going to get picked in the World Cup and that would be it,” he said.

“So, obviously your mindset changes with the new rules and regulations and it does feel like a bit of unfinished business having gone so far but at the end of the day that's done now so for us the focus is this weekend and getting the job done.”

Knee surgery in January means Genia hasn’t played rugby for almost the entirety of 2016 and the 28-year-old wasn’t confident that he would be ready for the first Bledisloe until last week.

“Last Monday we had a big session and I was feeling it a bit thinking if I'm playing I'll be a little bit busted,” he said.

Will Genia was instrumental in the World Cup. Photo: Getty images“By the end of the week I was confident in my body in terms of conditioning and the physical work that I'd done.

“There's no doubt it's going to be hard, first game for 6-7 months but I wouldn't put my hand up if I didn't think I was ready so I don't know how many minutes I'll play or how many minutes I'll have in me but for whatever that Is I'll be giving my best to contribute in a positive way."

Going through Michael Cheika’s gruelling session gave him the psychological push he needed despite his absence from full matches.

“The harder that you train, the better prepared you are physically and probably more mentally as well,” he said.

“I feel like I've done the work and that's what gives me confidence going into the game so I'll get out there and do my best.”

Genia will return to a Wallabies back line that has just one new face in it from the side that played in the World Cup final, that of Dane Haylett-Petty.

His halves partner, Bernard Foley, is a familiar one but Genia said the aim for the Wallabies should be to be interchangeable, throughout the entire squad.

“Obviously we had those combinations from that World Cup so it's a bit familiar in the sense that you've got the guys inside and outside you that were there at that time but these days you're so interchangeable,” he said.

“I mean look at the All Blacks - (Aaron) Cruden had the number 10 jersey again and then they swapped Barrett and they can do that sort of thing.

“Our challenge is to have that as well. Cheik always speaks about the fact it's not just the 15, not just the 23, it's everyone in the squad. You get so much training time with everyone that it doesn't really matter and that's me being absolutely honest.

Genia has tasted victory over New Zealand just twice in his career and said lineout and physicality would be the keys to clinching Saturday’s Test.

Wallabies' first Bledisloe Cup Test team

All Blacks' first Bledisloe Cup Test team