Genia is key for Wallabies, Jones says

Normal, Sports

The National, Wednesday June 18th, 2013

 PAPUA New Guinea-born Will Ge­nia will be instrumental in the Wallabies ta­ming the British and Irish Lions, former Australian coach Eddie Jones says.

Jones said the tourists were a well drilled and physically strong team — cohesive and clinical. 

He said the Lions had already shown they were street-smart and if the Wallabies were going to win the series, their key men had to fire.

Jones said Genia, 25, was simply the best halfback in the world. 

“His running and passing game are lightning-quick and he is so strong on the ball that if you don’t put two defenders on him he’ll slip outside and create trouble round the ruck,” he said. 

“A halfback of that quality creates space for the players around him. 

“The Lions defend with a fast line speed, so the way to dent that is to gain your ground off the halfbacks. 

“If you get over the gainline close to the ruck then it slows the speed of the defence and that is why Genia is a key part of the Wallaby game-plan. The battle at scrumhalf is the most personal one-on-one match-up in the game. 

“Genia dominated Mike Phil­lips last summer and that gives him a mental edge, particularly if he can get on top early in the first Test.”

Genia has 35 caps for the Wallabies and became the country’s 78th captain when he lead them out against the United States of America at the 2011 World Cup.

Jones said other key players who would have to carry a heavier load to claim the series over Warren Gatland’s Lions were James O’Connor, Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale, James Horwill and Michael Hooper.

But, he said, had he been coach he would have picked Quade Cooper.

“His partnership with Genia for Queensland means the pair know each other on the pitch.”

On Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, Jones said, “This is now his sixth year and he needs to get the side winning, starting with this series. It will be hard for him to continue to the 2015 World Cup if he does not beat the Lions.”