Will Genia wants Quade as Wallabies partner
April 11, 2013
Quade Cooper has shown improved form since the return of Will Genia © Getty Images
Will Genia expects Queenland Reds and Australia halves partner Quade Cooper to start for the Wallabies against the British & Irish Lions, and says he doesn't want to play alongside any other five-eighth.
Cooper was a surprise omission from the Wallabies' two-day camp in Sydney, where Robbie Deans' prospective 30-man squad will gather to plan for the three-Test series kicking off on June 22. His omission has baffled and upset many past and present Wallabies, but the 38-Test five-eighth has copped his non-selection on the chin.
Genia and Cooper have formed a superb combination for both Queensland and the Wallabies over the past four seasons, and Cooper's form has lifted significantly since the No. 9 returned from a knee reconstruction in March.
But Genia stressed that Cooper also made him a better player, and he predicted the fly-half's continued good form for the Reds would push him right back into the Wallabies starting team. "If he's playing well enough, he's going to be there," the Wallabies vice-captain told AAP. "I wouldn't want to play with anyone else. We've got such a good understanding. The big thing with us is just the trust. We back each other to make the right play."
Wallabies and Reds skipper James Horwill also backed Cooper to reclaim the gold No. 10 jersey on the back of top performances over the next eight Super Rugby rounds.
Deans' decision to leave Cooper on the outer - when suspended incumbent Kurtley Beale is also out of the picture to deal with alcohol issues - prompted a withering attack by former Test fullback Greg Martin on Brisbane radio.
"He is kidding if he's not picking Quade Cooper," Martin said on Triple M. "In other words, Robbie Deans wants to sabotage Australian rugby. He's made it about who he personally likes, not winning games. [Cooper] is the only way we can beat the British & Irish Lions; every other [five-eighth candidate] is pretty pedestrian or isn't used to Will Genia. There are a lot of five-eighths around who can do things to keep you in the game, but he does stuff that wins you the game."
Genia felt that Cooper's extra maturity on and off the field in 2013 had shown the fly-half had put behind him the problems of last year, and he said that team-mates should have no concerns about welcoming the pivot back into the fold.
"I think Quadey has been outstanding for us at the Reds," Genia said. "As we've seen with his attitude and demeanour this year, he's a new man and he's different. Last year is last year, and we've moved on."