Cheika mulling over Genia and Beale

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says he’s yet to make a call on whether star duo Kurtley Beale and Will Genia will suit up in June.

Beale’s Wasps have qualified on top of the ladder for the Premiership semi-finals, with the final to be played on May 27, just two weeks before the first Test, against Fiji.

Genia’s Stade Francais played its last game on the weekend, after a last-ditch appeal was rejected on Wednesday, but the scrumhalf has said he will feature in a May 28 Barbarians clash against England.

Both would be available to play under the June window rules and under Australia’s 60-cap minimum for overseas-based players, and would be arguably be straight into the starting side.

Will Genia was influential in Brisbane. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyCheika said on Wednesday night that he hadn’t made a final call on the pair, with the decision to be made as part of the wider scheme of things.

“We’ll make a decision based off how those guys finish up at the end of the season and how they’re feeling and what our plans are for the rest of the year but they’re both definitely available,” he said.

“It’s a question of whether, discussing it together with the guys, we decide to go in June or decide to go in August (for the Rugby Championship).”

Though the duo will be cutting it fine to return for the opening Test on June 10 against Fiji, Cheika said he felt no need to rush it.

“I don’t need to call it now, there’s no benefit for me to call it now, I’ll just wait and see how they pull up at the end of the season,” he said.

“A lot can happen between now and then and let them finish off their obligations over there and have a bit of a break and then get back into training and we’ll see where it lands.”

Cheika also praised a World Rugby move to extend regulation eight this week, with players born overseas requiring five years’ continuous residency in their adopted country to be eligible for Tests, up from the previous three, with the new law kicking in in 2021.

Henry Speight and Sefa Naivalu are the two most recent current Wallabies who sat through the waiting period, with promising prop Taniela Tupou hitting his three-year mark at the end of the year.

Despite the benefits Australia has felt from Pacific Islanders, especially, coming overseas, Cheika said he didn’t think the new law would have a major impact on the Wallabies’ talent base.

“I think it’s the right time for it now. In the past the way that it was set up was right for the time that it was and now it’s probably a good move,” he said.

“All our lads - they’re not playing for Australia unless they want to play for Australia.

“We’re a nation where people come from everywhere to live there and they build their allegiances accordingly.

“Those guys who are from dual nationality and they choose to play for their new country, that’s about as patriotic as it gets.

“That shows how committed they are.”

The Wallabies open their June Series against Fiji on June 10, with Test against Scotland and Italy to follow.