Ahead of halfback Will Genia’s 100th test match for the Wallabies, England coach Eddie Jones has recalled his time as coach of the Queensland Reds when a young Genia was in the Reds’ youth stocks.
“I remember this fat little bloke in the academy,” Jones said.
“They said ‘nah he doesn’t work hard enough.’
The bad rap on Genia prompted Jones to reach out to him and his father, to steer him in the right direction. Jones says following the discussion he has never seen a boy work as hard.
“I remember having a meeting with him and his dad — I think his dad was an education minister for Papua New Guinea.
“We had a bit of a chat about what he needed to do and where he needed to go and I never saw a boy work as hard as him.
“I can always remember on a Thursday when we didn’t train he’d always come up and get a bag of balls and practice his box kicking.
“It’s a real tribute to him how hard he’s worked and what a great player he’s been for Australia.”
When the Wallabies play England at Twickenham in their final test of the year they will be hoping to end a five-match losing streak against the Old Foe, as well as putting a horror year behind them that has yielded just four wins from 12 test matches.
When Genia runs out onto the turf he will become just the 10th Wallaby to reach the 100 club, an achievement he rates as his biggest achievement in the game.
“It’s one of those things where you have to suppress that emotion because it’s obviously a big Test and all about the team,” he said.
“But it would be one of my biggest achievements, if not my biggest achievement, getting the opportunity to play 100 Tests for my country.
“I’ll hopefully celebrate it with a win afterwards.”
Despite the tough times in 2018, Genia believes the bond between the players is as strong as ever, saying it’s the closest environment to a family as he has been a part of.
“It’s like a family, it’s the most I’ve ever felt part of a team.
“Whether it’s because we’re staying tight because things aren’t going well or whatever it is, I don’t know.
“But it’s a group where there is so much belief and so much faith in what we’re trying to achieve.
“I’m a believer and I’ll be a believer until I am not here.”
In other news:
Tell us what you think about the Rugby World Cup and you could win £100