Genia is back in Brisbane amid the coronavirus pandemic after spending a season with the Kintestsu Liners in Japan’s second-tier Top Challenge League following last year’s failed World Cup campaign with the Wallabies.
During his time back in Australia, the 32-year-old has been working with McDermott after fielding a call from Reds attack coach Jim McKay to help aid the development of the incumbent Queensland halfback.
Genia’s retirement from the international game leaves new Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie with a void to fill at halfback, and the 110-test veteran firmly believes McDermott could be the player to fit the bill.
Widely regarded as one of the most promising prospects in Australian rugby, the uncapped 21-year-old was described by Genia as a “very, very good player” in an interview with rugby.com.au.
However, Genia – who was instrumental in helping the Reds clinch their maiden Super Rugby title in 2011 – said that McDermott’s natural attacking instincts need to be maintained if the Wallabies are to get the best out of him.
“I definitely think he’s got the game (to play test rugby), he just needs to make sure he doesn’t get that coached out of him,” Genia said.
“I just love how he plays off instinct, he’s got that good balance with that attacking brand of rugby, he sees the breakdown and in anticipation he might do something, whether he runs or whether he’s putting someone into space and I like watching him play heads-up footy.
“He needs to keep that attacking mindset and that want to play the game because makes him the player that he is.
“For me, players like him don’t want to coach those things out of him.
“He’s got something in his game not many other halfbacks in world rugby have, he’s just got that really attacking mindset and the ability to get players in the game – whether it be in his running, passing, quick taps or though mauls, scrums and lineouts.
“He’s got a good ability to read space and fill space – you never want to coach that out of them and have that ‘get to the breakdown, pass, get to the breakdown, pass’ approach, you want to encourage him.”
With the COVID-19 crisis bringing rugby around the globe to its knees, though, McDermott may have to wait some time before he begin to ply his trade in the green and gold of a Wallabies jersey.
Super Rugby remains on hold for the foreseeable future following its suspension after seven rounds of action, while Australia’s July tests against Ireland and Fiji are in doubt, as is the annual Rugby Championship.
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