Genia the European outlier

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

As criticism of the Wallabies ‘Giteau Law’ grows, Will Genia provides the counter-argument.

Genia has been the only one of the returned Wallabies to make it through the series unscathed thus far, with Matt Giteau and Adam Ashley-Cooper heading back to France and Drew Mitchell yet to play a Test.

The 28-year-old is younger than the rest of the group, though with 68 Tests to his name, and came into the series with a major injury cloud, that has been well and truly assuaged after an 80-minute Bledisloe opener and another 60 minutes in Wellington.

Will Genia in action in the gym. Photo:ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyThe former Reds halfback said he wasn’t worried about external criticism, just his own performances, which have been among the best of the Wallabies in a six-Test losing streak.

“Apparently we're too old, too slow and don't have anything to offer. That's just people's opinions at the end of the day,” he said.

“If the coaches and selectors didn't think we were good enough we wouldn't be here.

“Thing is, people speak about us bringing back experience and things like that but first and foremost we've got to be playing well enough to be selected so we can contribute to the team.

“If we don't do that there's no point in us being here.

“We've got to justify the faith put in us by performing at training and on the field as well.

“I feel like I'm going alright but at the end of the day, we've still come up short.

“There's areas I definitely feel we need to improve and areas where as a group we need to improve as well.”

The move to France has given him some extra insight into his international foes, playing alongside and against a handful of Springboks in the Top 14, though he only suited up for four matches at Stade Francais

“Honestly it's been amazing, to get the opportunity to meet those guys – Morne [Steyn], Willem Alberts, Paul Williams who plays for Samoa but used to play for the Blues,” he said.

Will Genia has been in solid form for the Wallabies. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley“Just to have conversations not about rugby but also life in general - where they come from, where I come from.

“So often you see them on the field as your enemy but to be mates, train with them, for me it's been amazing.”

Where Genia has brought experience to the Wallabies, his potential Springboks counterpart Faf De Klerk is at the other end of the scale, though he’s a talent of which Genia is wary.

“I think he's exceptional,” he said.

“He's been very good, not just at provincial level but in the opportunities he's had for the Springboks.

“He's quite a livewire, he's got a good pass, he likes to attack the defenders around the ruck, and I think we'll have our work cut out for us to make sure we can nullify that throughout.”