Australia v British & Irish Lions, Brisbane, June 22
Will Genia confident about combinations
June 21, 2013
Will Genia has faith in the Wallabies' backline © Getty Images
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans selected three debutants for the Test, including two in the backline - right winger Israel Folau and inside centre Christian Lealiifano; blindside flanker Ben Mowen is the other new face. The omission from the squad of Queensland Reds playmaker Quade Cooper, and Deans' decision to play James O'Connor at fly-half have been major talking points, but Genia, one of seven players in the starting XV to have played 40-plus Tests, is unconcerned.
"I think the guys have played together in previous years a number of times so there's definitely combinations and you find comfort in the fact that you have played together, whether it's been in your provinces or in your Wallabies set-up," Genia said in Brisbane on Friday. "And we're all very familiar with the way we want to play because I don't think it's changed too much over the years. We've been lucky that we've had stability with coaching with Robbie having been here for a while [since 2008] and senior players having been here for a long while now."
Genia, who has been vocal in his support of his Reds team-mates Cooper throughout the Super Rugby season, endorsed O'Connor's selection.
"I think he'll do really well," Genia said of O'Connor, 22, who excelled in his only Test appearance at five-eighth, against Wales in November 2011, the only time he has partnered the Queensland No.9 in the halves. "If training's anything to go by he's really dived in to the role of accepting the responsibility of running the team and he's done it really well in the past three weeks, so really looking forward to having the opportunity to play with him tomorrow."
Genia said the reconfiguration of the backline will have no affect on his own game, and he played down his personal duel with Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips. "He's an exceptional player," Genia said of the Welshman. He's a physical and abrasive player who likes to get stuck in, but as far as individual battles go you very rarely as half-backs come into contact with each other. There's no real one-on-one opportunities with each other so it's more just doing as well as you can for your team and I guess having a positive influence rather than trying to do too much and out do the other bloke so to speak."
James Horwill, meanwhile, insists the Wallabies have genuine hopes of winning the first Test, saying the side with the best work ethic will prevail. "It's going to come down to a number of things but probably the main thing is you've got to make sure you work hard," Horwill said. "These Test matches and games of this magnitude, there's not a lot in it player to player and everyone across both teams is incredibly skilful. It's hard to put a finger on one thing but you've got to make sure you're ready to work for the 80 minutes and get ready to take your opportunities when they come because I'd imagine there won't be too many."
Wallabies to hit the ground running