Wallabies and Rebels halfback Will Genia has been linked with a move to Japan following this year’s World Cup.

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According to a report from the Sydney Morning Herald, the 31-year-old is “close to signing” a deal with second-tier Japanese club Kintetsu Liners as the Australian post-World Cup exodus continues to grow.

A number of Australians have already confirmed their departures to offshore clubs from 2020 onwards, with Nick Phipps (London Irish), Rory Arnold (Toulouse), Sam Carter (Ulster), Sefa Naivalu (Stade Francais), Curtis Rona (London Irish) and Duncan Paia’aiua (Toulon) among those heading to Europe.

Plenty more Australian-based players are expected to leave, but Genia’s defection to Japan would be a particularly significant blow for the Wallabies and Rebels given his experience, seniority and talent within the Australian rugby landscape.

The 100-test veteran is reportedly after a long-term deal, something of which he isn’t being offered in Australia.

The Herald‘s report suggests that Rugby Australia “are keen” on keeping Genia in their books, but are only prepared to offer him an 18-month contract.

It is believed that Kintetsu are willing to offer Genia a longer deal than what RA have put forward, while a “lucrative financial package” is also being used as an incentive for him to sign with the club.

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The Rebels are thought to be strongly in favour of keeping their star man in Melbourne, however, and will be doing everything in their power to keep him on board for the coming seasons.

Genia has made an impressive start to the 2019 Super Rugby campaign, linking up with long-term halves partner and new Rebels signing Quade Cooper to propel the Victoria franchise to an unbeaten start to the season after three matches.

They head into this week’s clash against the Lions in Johannesburg at the top of the Australian conference, and join the Crusaders as the only sides yet to taste defeat this year.

Kintetsu currently lie in the Top Challenge League, the division below the top-tier Top League competition.

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After finishing the 2018 season in third spot, the Liners challenged for a place in the Top League in a promotion-relegation clash with 14th-place Top League side Hino Red Dolphins, but lost 21-11, meaning they will remain in the Top Challenge League next season.

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