Australian Rugby - Wallabies v British & Irish Lions
Genia backs Cooper's Wallabies chances
May 21, 2013
Will Genia has backed team-mate Quade Cooper to work on areas Robbie Deans has identified © Getty Images
With Robbie Deans' critique still ringing in his ears, Quade Cooper has been backed by Queensland Reds halves partner Will Genia to respond by sealing a belated Wallabies squad spot for the British & Irish Lions series.
Wallabies scrum-half Genia admitted he was disappointed by Cooper's omission from Deans' initial 25-man squad for the three-Test series against the Lions. However, he believed Cooper would address the not-so-subtle reasons outlined by Wallabies coach Deans for the snub and force selectors to name him among the six squad additions on June 11.
"In terms of Quade's situation, it is obviously very disappointing," Genia said in Cape Town ahead of the Reds' Super Rugby clash with the Stormers on Sunday (AEST). "As a mate and a friend, I will definitely support him in doing whatever he needs to get into that last six that is named. I absolutely back him to get there. He has been playing exceptionally well for us thus far this season."
James O'Connor is Deans' preferred No. 10, after the Wallabies mentor claimed Cooper had to be less tackle-shy and needed to share playmaking duties to ensure he was not so predictable in attack.
Deans even blamed Cooper's game for the form dip of Wallabies and Queensland centre Ben Tapuai, who also missed the squad.
But Genia said on Tuesday: "They've named a few things they want him to work on and I think he is mature enough to understand that and go away and work on those things."
Cooper gets his last chance to impress Wallabies selectors when Queensland take on the Lions in a June 8 tour match.
Genia's main priority was the Reds bouncing back against the Stormers this weekend. Queensland missed a chance to jump to the top of the Australian conference when they fell 27-13 to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last round. Genia admitted it was "incredibly important" they left South Africa with a win after the gut-wrenching loss to the Cheetahs.
The Stormers appear vulnerable after returning from an Australasian tour where they lost all three games - against the Blues, New South Wales Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels.
And Genia said the Reds were further buoyed by their 19-6 win over the Stormers in Cape Town on their way to claiming the 2011 Super Rugby championship.
"If you look back at that game, they were top of the table I think with us at the time," he said. "There was a lot spoken about their defence and about how we would front up and physically we bashed them - it stood us in good stead. We have to make sure we take that mindset into this game."