Captain James Horwill has shrugged off Western Force’s suggestion a strategic pressure play led to Queensland Reds halfback Will Genia’s stunning backflip.
Horwill said on Tuesday he thought Western Force CEO Vern Reid was reading too much into the Queensland Rugby Union’s announcement on Saturday that Genia was off to join the Force in 2013.
A fuming Reid questioned Queensland’s motives in going public before a contract had been signed after Genia did an about-face, having previously agreed terms with the Force, and signed to stay with the Reds for another three years.
“It was a really unusual thing to do, to release information like that when I’m sure they were aware that nothing had been signed – the net result appears that it may well have been a successful ploy,” Reid said.
Asked if Read was reading too much into it, Horwill said: “I think so.”
Horwill insisted it was loyalty and not any elaborate ploy that ensured Genia remained at the Reds.
“We have worked really hard to create an environment here at the Reds to get guys to stay and be loyal to the team,” he said.
Horwill said he’d spoken with Genia over the weekend but did not think he’d swayed the halfback’s decision.
“I was supportive of him making a decision when he told me he was leaving (for WA),” said Horwill.
“Then we had a long chat on Sunday when he informed me that he had made the decision to stay.
“When I spoke to him, it was more about how he was going because a lot had come out on Saturday night (about his moving to the Force).
“I wouldn’t say it was my doing (Genia staying). Will clearly wanted to be here.”
Horwill did not believe there was any bad blood between the clubs, despite Genia almost becoming the latest in a long line of Reds’ players poached by the Force.
“In professional sport, that is the way it is. It is just the reality of the environment we are in,” Horwill said.
“Whether it is right or wrong, we have to deal with it and move on.”
Horwill kept his fingers crossed that Genia’s re-signing would ensure off-contract stars such as Wallabies five-eighth Quade Cooper stayed in Queensland.
The Force have reportedly now set their sights on Cooper after dramatically missing out on his Reds’ playmaking partner.
“It is very encouraging that Will is staying – it shows the boys love being part of this organisation and the group,” Horwill said.
“You would like it to have a knock-on effect.
“But individuals make decisions for their own reasons and you can’t hold that against them.
“(And) the Force won’t be the only ones who want him (Cooper) on their roster.
Cooper told reporters on Tuesday that his main priority was recovering from a knee injury that ended his World Cup campaign last October.
Meanwhile, the Reds received some welcome news on the injury front when scans indicated flanker Beau Robinson may only miss a week with an ankle complaint.