As a former Wallabies and Queensland flyhalf, Paul McLean is a massive fan of the current generation’s No.10, scheming X-factor Quade Cooper.
But the former Test captain, freshly inducted into the Wallabies Hall of Fame, believes it is Cooper’s right-hand man, Will Genia, who is the player Australia can least afford to lose at the World Cup.
McLean rates Genia so pivotal to the Wallabies cause he puts the canny and dynamic halfback on the same mantle as the world’s best playmaker, Daniel Carter.
“I don’t think the All Blacks could win the World Cup without Dan Carter and we might be in the same boat with Will,” he told AAP.
“Genia is obviously the linchpin. You don’t want to lose your best player.
“It would be like the Kiwis without Carter but I wouldn’t like to say we couldn’t win it without him.”
McLean, who played 31 Tests from 1974 to 1982, likened Genia’s integral presence to that of 1991 World Cup-winning skipper and No.9 Nick Farr-Jones.
“Farr-Jones was such an influential player and that’s what Genia is, he said.
McLean, who became the third and last 2011 inductee to the Hall of Fame on Thursday, joins Farr-Jones among a band of 23 former Wallabies in the esteemed group.
Regarded among Australia’s best-ever goalkickers and five-eighths, McLean was also one part of Queensland’s Holy Trinity, along with Mark Loane and Tony Shaw, which helped lead both their state and country out of the rugby mire in the 1970s.
Genia, Cooper and James Horwill, who will captain the Wallabies for the first time on Saturday night, can be seen as the Holy Trinity Mark II after transforming the Reds and leading them to this year’s Super Rugby title.
McLean felt the highly-skilled Cooper was on track to join the likes of Michael Lynagh, Mark Ella, Stephen Larkham and himself as a playmaking Test great after developed a strong tactical game in the past 12 months.
With the development of Cooper, Genia, David Pocock and co., plus an increased depth across the board, McLean is confident the Wallabies can end a 10-year Tri-Nations drought by defeating the All Blacks at Suncorp Stadium and go on with the ability to win the World Cup.
“We’re in a good position at the moment,” the former Australian Rugby Union president said. “I’m feeling pretty good about it.”