Cheika expecting fight for Genia

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika isn’t expecting it to be easy to secure Will Genia’s services for Australia’s entire five Test Spring Tour, despite naming him in the squad.

Genia will be released by French club Stade Francais for three of the five Tests, which fall under the International Test window, but the Wallabies are hoping to have him for the Wales and England Tests as well, which fall outside that.

Cheika said the Wallabies were still trying to pick their battles when it came to Europe-based players, but hoped that the French side would be open to

Will Genia StadeGenia has played just four matches for Stade Francais since signing with the club, after a knee injury ended his 2015-16 season prematurely.

Since returning from injury, he has played solely for the Wallabies, having been released by Stade for the Rugby Championship, before returning to France ahead of the final Bledisloe.

“Will has pretty much played the whole season with us more or less and I know I'm probably going to have a fight on my hands to try and get him available for the first Test which is outside the window,” he said.

“I see that the English clubs have released the Welsh players. They made a decision the premiership as a whole of releasing Welsh players that are playing in the Premiership en bulk to play in that game against us.

“I’m hoping I’ll get the same reaction from president of Stade Francais but you never know.

“Regardless, Will’s had a great season and he's a player who's taking up more of a leadership role with the team.

“He's a player who's still well and truly young enough to keep going forward. He's a player I had no hesitation in picking.”

Kurtley Beale is one player taking up a big-money offer overseas. Photo: Getty ImagesAdam Ashley-Cooper ruled himself out of the tour, telling Cheika he didn’t believe his fitness was good enough to play Tests, while Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell are both injured.

Cheika will also be using the time away to catch up with injured star Kurtley Beale, who is expected to return to action in December for Premiership side Wasps.

Beale is signed with Wasps for two seasons, but reportedly has the option to return to Australia after just one, meaning he could be back at the Waratahs midway through the 2017 Super Rugby season.