Merger could give Genia windy road home

by Sam Phillips

The controversial Stade Francais-Racing 92 merger could be a blessing in disguise for Wallabies halfback Will Genia, who is seeking a route back to Australian rugby.

The Reds have been without Genia's services since he departed for France at the end of the 2015 World Cup but there is now an avenue for Michael Cheika's first-choice nine to come back to Ballymore this year.

Genia signed a three-year contract with Stade Francais in 2015, that still has one year running, leaving him free to return to Australia midway through 2018, similar to Kurtley Beale's recent re-signing. 

Stade's players have voted to go on strike in protest of the merger with cross-town rivals Racing, but should it go ahead, new owner Jacky Lorenzetti has said 'players will be axed', with two lists of 45 players needing to be condensed.

Genia has been somewhat removed from the controversy, having returned to Brisbane in the club's week off, but is believed to have already been investigating a route home before the news emerged.

Will Genia StadeThe QRU did not entertain the whispers when asked by on Wednesday, maintaining the franchise's policy of silence when it comes to individual playing contracts until they are signed, sealed and delivered.

The same tight-lipped approach applied when rumours were rife that Quade Cooper would return from Toulon and similarly when the Brumbies shocked Australian rugby by announcing Stephen Moore was leaving Canberra for his home town.

Where there is smoke there tends to be fire, but there are still several hurdles for Genia to clear before Reds fans can start celebrating.

Should Genia be released from the French deal, the ARU and QRU would then have to negotiate with Bath, who have first right of refusal on his deal. 

The famous English club were the first to lure the scrumhalf to Europe before Stade Francais bought the rights to his contract.

It's understood Bath may impose a hefty fee if the ARU and QRU fight to secure Genia's services, an obstacle that could see Genia play a season for the UK team before possibly returning to Australia.

Another spanner in the works is the recent re-signing of Reds starting halfback Nick Frisby but with ARU top-ups, it's understood the salary cap gymnastics could be figured out if both parties are interested.

If all goes to plan, Genia could be back in Brisbane as soon as June.