Will Genia says it’s business as usual for his Melbourne Rebels halves partner Quade Cooper, who will return to Brisbane this Saturday night for his first Super Rugby match against the Reds since his acrimonious departure.
Cooper joined Melbourne this year after being sidelined for an entire season by Queensland coach Brad Thorn, who said the 118-game veteran no longer fitted with their culture.
While the Rebels dropped their last two games in South Africa, Cooper has been instrumental in their much-improved attack this season and has been lauded by his new club and teammates for his off-field influence.
Genia, who also has 114 caps with the Reds, said he didn’t see anything different in the way Cooper was preparing this week.
“If it’s something different, I haven’t noticed it,” Genia said on Wednesday.
“He’s brought the same intensity, the same work ethic, the same qualities he bring to every session.
“He didn’t leave on bad terms with th e Queensland public and the Reds fans.
“His focus hasn’t been on what it’s going to be like and personal battles and what he’s coming up against … it’s just a case of him doing his job within the team to make sure we get a result.”
The trio flew home after their earlier loss to the Lions in Johannesburg and Genia said while it was disappointing to not be able to contribute in Durban, he could feel the positives of the week off and early return to Melbourne.
Genia supported the policy, saying it was about getting the best possible outcome for Australian rugby.
“It was huge for me to get back and get some work done in terms of strength and conditioning and freshen up mentally,” Genia said.
“I’m jumping out of my skin – I can’t wait to play.”
The 30-year-old missed playing for the Rebels at Suncorp Stadium last season through injury so this will also be his first match returning to the scene of Super Rugby glory, back in 2011 when they won the title.
“It’s a place that has really good memories for me on a personal level but that’s chapter’s closed,” Genia said.
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