VIDEO: Genia has New Zealand ambitions
SPOTLIGHT: Will Genia will likely be remembered as one of Australia’s greatest ever scrumhalves.
The 33-year-old, whose last Super Rugby appearance was for the Rebels back in 2019, currently plays for the Kintetsu Liners in the second tier of Japanese rugby, but over the past decade, he has arguably been one of the game’s best in his position.
Throughout his career, Genia has enjoyed successes both on the international stage and domestically.
A Super Rugby champion with the Reds back in 2011, it was whilst he was in the Queensland setup that Genia first formed his, now famous, partnership with Quade Cooper, as the pair terrorised defences en route to a maiden title. In that campaign, few will forget Genia’s stunning 5om score to deny the Crusaders in a close-run final in Brisbane.
Making his international test debut in 2009, Genia went on to achieve 110 caps for the Wallabies, winning a Tri-Nations title and a Rugby Championship title along the way.
Throw in a successful stint at Stade Français, with whom he clinched the European Rugby Challenge Cup and you have an honours list the envy of any player out there.
But there’s seemingly one goal yet to be ticked off on Genia’s long and illustrious rugby bucket list.
“I’ve always wanted to maybe come over and play in New Zealand for a year or so,” Genia said, a guest on this week’s Aotearoa Rugby Pod. “That’d be the dream, when I’ve finished.”
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By his own admission, Genia still has unfinished business in Japan with Kintetsu, where he and Cooper currently form the halfback pairing, winding back the clock to 2011.
“I went there [Kintetsu] straight after the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and I’ve got another year there,” commented Genia. “So I’m keen for another two more and that’ll probably be it – hang [the boots] up.”
On his experiences with Japanese rugby outside of the Top League, Genia was quick to provide a glowing report. “It’s a good lifestyle over there, obviously the footy’s not the same as it is back home, but they’re really good people,” Genia said. “The game’s growing and it’s really good to be a part of that growth.”
Though a little tongue in cheek, regular panel members and North Harbour teammates Bryn Hall and James Parsons seemed rightly enthused by the prospect of Genia’s appearance in either Super Rugby or the NPC, albeit at some undetermined stage in the future. Indeed, the pair were quick to highlight all the benefits of living on Auckland’s North Shore showing off some savvy negotiation tactics.
“There’s great coffee over here mate,” Hall assured Genia. “If you love a coffee, Takapuna’s the spot. Beach just down the road as well.” Parsons also, jumped in to offer his services with the ‘impending’ house search.
Jokes aside, Genia was complimentary of the nation he has so often faced off against at test level.
“One of my favourite memories of footy, in general, was the World Cup in New Zealand in 2011. I love New Zealand, I’ve always enjoyed going over there and we were based in Auckland for a large part of the World Cup, so that might be a thing for the future.”
Even if it were a distant prospect, Genia’s experience and nous would be an undeniable asset for any team in New Zealand both on and off the field. Indeed as Hall put it, “I’d be learning a few tricks off him for sure.”
By Tom Raine, RugbyPass