The Melbourne Rebels duo, who also played Super Rugby together in Queensland for the Reds, are the latest top players to head to Japan to play club rugby after the country hosts this year’s World Cup.
The Liners, who play in Japan’s second-tier Top Challenge League, said scrum-half Genia will link up with the club after the World Cup, but fly-half Cooper, who was not named in the Wallabies’ Rugby Championship squad, could move to Japan as soon as September.
Japan’s domestic league season will begin in January 2020, which is later than usual due to the World Cup, which starts on September 20.
“My aim is to do my best and, through my play, I would like to make this the number one team in Japan,” Genia said in a statement on the club’s website.
— Rich Freeman (@FreemanrugbyJPN) July 11, 2019
The Liners, who are based near Osaka, have never won Japan’s Top League competition since it started in 2004 but did win the amateur All-Japan Championship three times between 1966-1974.
“I will work hard to take the team back to Top League,” added Cooper, whose exclusion from the Australian squad caused a rumpus among Wallabies fans. “When we reach the Top League, then I want to contribute more again at that stage. I want to challenge rugby in Japan, and I can still contribute on the pitch.”
Following two seasons and 22 matches for Melbourne, scrum half Will Genia will continue his rugby career at the Kintetsu Liners. Thank you for everything you've done to grow the game in Victoria Will and we can't wait to cheer you on as a Wallaby in Japan!#AlwaysARebel pic.twitter.com/Z9IkfysTET
— Melbourne Rebels (@MelbourneRebels) July 11, 2019
Fellow Wallaby David Pocock will also return to Japan in 2020 and it was not just Australian players who have been enticed to Japanese rugby next season.
WATCH: Part one of the two-part RugbyPass documentary on what the travelling fans can experience at the 2019 World Cup in Japan
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