Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

We won't disrespect Irish again, maintains Genia


By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Seven years on, there are 10 survivors from that famous 2011 night in Auckland when the balance of power between Australia and Ireland shifted.

Whatever about one-off wins in November, the 15-6 World Cup pool victory was a statement, and while Declan Kidney's men hit their familiar glass ceiling in the quarter-final against Wales in Wellington, the win over the Wallabies remains a high point.

For Australia scrum-half Will Genia, that match is inked into his psyche. After that, he has always taken Ireland seriously.

He, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu and Kurtley Beale remain in the Wallaby set-up seven years on, while Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray, Keith Earls, Rob Kearney, Cian Healy and Sean Cronin are the survivors in the Irish squad that arrived in Brisbane over the weekend.

While his illustrious colleague Israel Folau isn't too familiar with his opponents for the next three weeks, Genia knows them all too well and has sworn never to take them lightly again.

"When I look back, we probably underestimated them," he said yesterday.

"That was disrespectful and they taught us a lesson which was good for us.

"Coming into this game, we cannot underestimate them. They are No.2 in the world, but more than that, just the level of rugby they have been playing, I have said it before, it is all about attrition with them.

"They are good at retaining possession but, aside from that, you have got Sexton who can sit back in the pocket, you have Conor Murray whose box-kicking puts pressure on you.

"They have got a good game but, more than anything, they really understand their game-plan and execute it really well."

The scrum-half, who was famously picked up and driven back by Stephen Ferris during that World Cup win, was asked what is different about Ireland now, and responded: "They just started winning."

He is reminded that Ireland team had only won a Grand Slam in 2009 and had a decent record against Australia in Dublin during the previous decade.

"The style of rugby they play now, they have big-game players now too. I was probably ignorant back in 2009 of what they achieved that year," he clarified.

"I was young, probably ignorant - they had (Ronan) O'Gara, (Brian) O'Driscoll, (Paul) O'Connell."

He does not believe that the big contingent of young players will be guilty of the same mistake, despite the experienced Folau's utterance that he "didn't really know much about Ireland".

"Guys just know more now," he said. "Social media has played a part in that. People take more of an interest now.

"They know about the Sextons, the Murrays, the impacts they have had at club level, winning with Leinster and all that sort of stuff.

"There is no chance of us underestimating because people just know too much about them."

Murray is an opponent that Genia knows all about, having faced off against the Munster star a further three times since that game in 2011 - winning only the 2013 game at the Aviva Stadium, Joe Schmidt's second game in charge.

"He is a big guy," the former Stade Francais scrum-half said of his opposite number.

"He is very strong, he can be physical. His tactical kicking, he does it better than anyone else, which creates a lot of pressure on opponents.

"They chase it well and when they get that ball back, they are 30-40 metres down the pitch and on the front foot.

"That is a big part of his game we have spoken about."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph