Genia set to return to France

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies star Will Genia looks set to miss the final Bledisloe Cup match in Auckland with the scrumhalf in line to return to French club, Stade Francais.

Genia’s availability for the final trans-Tasman match was always unclear, with the Test falling outside of the Rugby Championship and the regulation nine window, meaning his French club has first rights.

The scrumhalf has been the most readily available of all of Australia’s Europe-based players, with Stade releasing him from the beginning of Wallabies training camps up until now, leaving him as the final international player with the squad.

Will Genia has been a star for the Wallabies  this season. Photo: Getty ImagesGenia’s departure would be a blow to the Wallabies, given he was among their best through the Rugby Championship, though there’s a sense of gratitude that he was able to play for as long as he has in what has been a relatively simple discussion in comparison to some others.

The 28-year-old will return to the Top 14 competition to play for Stade, who currently sits 11th in the competition with three wins from eight starts.

The Paris side also lost its first Challenge Cup fixture overnight, going down to Harlequins 43-21.

Injuries and club commitments caused the other European Wallabies - Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell - to return to France during the Rugby Championship as well.

All five, depending on fitness, would still be eligible under regulation nine to play three Tests in Australia’s Spring Tour, starting next month, with that stint coming under the allowable window.

Will Genia StadeGenia has been openly grateful to Stade for their cooperation in his release, speaking after Australia’s win over Argentina in Perth.

“My club has been amazing from the start in letting me come back to Australia early to train and prepare for the Wallabies,” Genia said at the time.

“They’ve given me a release for the whole Rugby Championship and I guess, by the regulations, they have to for the spring tour.”

Genia’s impending departure would likely open the door for Nick Phipps to start in Auckland, having been the Queenslander’s deputy in recent weeks.

Reds scrumhalf Nick Frisby would be in line for a potential Test return as well, training with the squad in Pretoria and London.

Another player who is aiming for a Spring Tour return is hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, who underwent arm surgery this week.

Tatafu Polota-Nau has undergone successful surgery. Photo: InstagramPolota-Nau posted on Instagram after going under the knife, writing that everything had gone well.

The hooker was carrying an injury that coach Michael Cheika said was effectively a broken arm through the Rugby Championship, ruled out of the tournament ahead of a  trip to Pretoria and London.

Polota-Nau’s club future is yet to be settled, but he would be Test eligible no matter where he ends up having played more than the requisite 60 Tests.

The Wallabies Bledisloe squad will be announced this weekend, ahead of the October 22 Eden Park clash.