Genia supports hardliner McKenzie
Genia supports hardliner McKenzieSHARE
Australia's Will Genia believes the hardline approach of coach Ewen McKenzie will see the "most disciplined" Wallaby side he has known also become a winning one.
McKenzie took over from New Zealander Robbie Deans following Australia's 1-2 series loss to the British and Irish Lions in July and it was not long before he sentenced James O'Connor to international exile.
O'Connor was dropped by Australia last month following a drunken incident at Perth airport that saw him escorted from the premises for arguing with airline staff, the latest of several off-field misdemeanours.
McKenzie subsequently declared O'Connor would have to "modify [his] behaviour" if he wanted to resurrect his Test career and the playmaker has not been included in the squad for a European tour that starts with Saturday's Test against England at Twickenham.
Scrumhalf Genia, who played under McKenzie at the Reds, said the former Wallaby prop had long run a tight ship.
"Discipline has always been one of his big things," the 25-year-old Genia told reporters.
"I experienced that when he was at the Reds and when he came in as the Wallaby coach, one of the first things he did was put in place the protocols and procedures for doing the right thing and the wrong thing and he was very hard on the group in saying that these things had to be followed.
"It is part of creating the culture that he wants to have in this Australian team."
Asked if this was the most disciplined Wallaby squad he had known, the 50-times capped Genia said: "Yes definitely. It is very hard line. There are no grey areas. You are either on the right side of the edge or not."
Australia have won just two of McKenzie's seven games in charge – and only three out of 10 this year – but Genia said: "The culture definitely affects the way you perform and you play and I think in our performances it is reflected that we are building a culture and environment that we want moving forward.
Tuesday saw O'Connor complete a move to English Premiership side London Irish and Genia said: "That is probably more of a distraction more than anything else. James has obviously chosen to head elsewhere and look after his own interests and where his future lies and good luck to him."
Genia was much more interested in the prospect of playing alongside Reds halfback partner Quade Cooper at Twickenham.
"There is no secret that we enjoy playing with each other. There is also no secret what Quade brings to the game, that X-factor, that flair and that ability to create something out of nothing and if he is at his best and wearing that number 10 jersey hopefully it will be a good spectacle," Genia said.
Saturday's match takes place a decade on from England's 2003 World Cup final win over Australia in Sydney, with the intervening years proving lean ones, commercially, for the Australian game until the Lions tour.
"The big comparison is that back then the side was winning more often than not, it was a successful team so it attracted big players and there was more sponsorship and money in the game," Genia said.
He added: "The only thing we can concentrate on to help is to be successful and win games.
"It is a very tough sporting market in Australia with Rugby League, AFL [Australian Rules], soccer, cricket and rugby is struggling to have a foothold in that competitive market.
"If we can be successful it would go a long way to easing that financial burden."