Will Genia and Nic White are in a unique position in the Wallabies’ World Cup squad, knowing that unless injury strikes, they will be part of every matchday 23 in this Rugby World Cup.
For the second Rugby World Cup in a row, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika opted to bring just two halfbacks to the tournament, stocking up on extra players in other positions.
If injury should befall one of them, the Wallabies would be in a sticky situation, with no replacements able to play in a team until 48 hours after they’re called up.
Should the worst case arise, flyhalf Bernard Foley has been training up as a back-up halfback, Genia said on Monday.
“Interesting you say that (about having two halfbacks) because Bernard Foley has been lined up as potentially the third halfback, he has been doing a lot of practice actually, feeding scrums, practising his passing, so if the worst comes to the worst we’ve got that cute little thing playing halfback as well,” he said.
“It’s similar to the last World Cup in 2015, there was only myself and Nick Phipps so whatever role I am chosen to play in, whether it’s from the start or at the back in the games I’m not particularly fussed.
“I am happy to just contribute and do my best.”
There was no such emergency scenario in 2015 with both Genia and Nick Phipps at the time making it through the entire tournament to the Rugby World Cup final.
White said seeing that just two halfbacks, had been picked for the tournament, particularly with the backdrop of the 2015 selection, was a little boost to his confidence ahead of the World Cup.
“Definitely. It did for sure,” he said.
“Seeing just two nines put a lot of faith in me and that meant a lot.
“So, yeah that faith gives a player confidence and, yeah, feeling pretty good at the moment.”
While there’s still a competition for a starting spot, the pair’s dynamic is more about learning from each other and brainstorming ideas rather than simply pushing to be better than the other, Genia said.
“I enjoy the working relationship because we see the game in a similar way, we have a similar understanding to how we want to play the game and I think our styles really suit the type of rugby we are playing here,” he said.
“We bounce ideas about how we can get better at this or how you are seeing this and what will you do in this situation but more than anything I am really enjoying the working relationship we have developed over the last little bit.”
Genia played the bulk of the minutes at no. 9 in 2015 but said it mattered little to him what his time count ended up at the end of 2019.
“You play, you don’t play, you play 20, you play 80, you play 60, whatever it is, I’m confident in my game and what I will bring if I am given the opportunity and I’m just happy to contribute to the team in any way that I can.
“The main difference is when you start the game you can build into it, when you come off the bench, you want to bring energy and bring an impact into the game but you don’t want to be doing too much.
“You want to fit into the way the game has been played. When you get on it is about having those conversations with the guys who have been on the field from the start and getting the feel of how they are seeing the game and trying to fit into that and do your job. “
The Wallabies take on Fiji on Saturday September 21 at the Sapporo Dome, kicking off at 1:45pm local, 2:45pm AEST, LIVE on Foxtel, Network Ten and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.