Will Genia’s decision to stay in Queensland is the best possible news for the future of the Wallabies.
With all due respect to the Force, that can’t take a trick these days, Genia will play much better rugby with the Reds and their better players than he would in the west.
And that means he’ll be a better Wallaby, already rated the best half-back in the world. Although that hasn’t been the case this season until last Friday night against the Blues at Eden Park, when the real Genia resurfaced.
It’s more than possible Genia was out of sorts before Eden Park trying to sort out his future behind closed doors.
“Regardless of whatever anyone’s thinking, and the judgements that have been made, I’m happy and that’s all that is important,” was how Genia reacted after signing a new three-year contract with the Reds yesterday, at a reported $200,000 a season less than the Force offer.
And he’s quite right. Genia being happy is of prime importance.
But did it need such a dramatic u-turn from Reds to Force and back to Reds in just a couple of days? Genia is a far better bloke than he’s been painted in this affair.
So who was playing “ducks and drakes” with the media on Genia’s behalf?
We’ll probably never know, but whatever the reason the right decision was the nett result.
What we do know is Genia told his coach Ewen McKenzie after Eden Park he was off to Perth, Reds CEO Jim Carmichael told a media conference Genia was Perth-bound wishing him well, rugby legend Tim Horan Twittered Genia was heading west, and Force chief exec Vern Reid said nothing was signed.
In the wash-up only Reid was accurate.
The big loser is the Force, still struggling to consistently compete in an elite tournament.
With Genia out of the frame, the Force will have trouble retaining the services of their skipper and world-class open-side flanker David Pocock, a future Wallaby captain.
If Pocock goes, allegedly back to Queensland where he first made an impression as a Churchie schoolboy playing inside-centre, would you believe, to Quade Cooper, and as an Australian Schoolboy international, the Force will be between a rock and a hard place.
The first big problem attracting quality players is distance, with a minimum five hours flying time to do battle with the rest of the Australian Conference. That becomes debilitating sooner than later.
Sure the Force is closer to South Africa, but even further away from New Zealand. This downside cannot be underestimated.
So it’s imperative the Force retain Pocock, at any price, otherwise experienced Stormer fly-half-goal-kicker Peter Grant won’t make Perth his home for three years, and warhorse lock Nathan Sharpe, playing some of the best rugby of his long career, won’t reconsider retirement at the end of the season.
No Pocock, no Genia, no Grant, no Sharpe, and now obviously no Cooper won’t be an appealing prospect to prospective Force coaches to replace the sacked Richard Graham like Australian Michael Cheika, successful Leinster coach and currently head-coach at Stade Francais, or former South African and Italian coach Nick Mallett.
What a mess.
It’s a rock and a hard place alright and time for the ARU to step in with salary cap dispensations to sign genuine overseas talent to allow the Force to breathe. The same can be said for the Rebels. Good players turn journeymen into good players by instilling a winning culture.
It’s doing Australian rugby no good to have two of five teams struggling near the bottom of the Super Rugby table showing little sign of improving. A losing culture is a fast trip to nowhere.
Both the Force and the Rebels must not be left to wither on the vine.