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Will Genia marvels at former teammate's 'complete transformation'

By AAP
Wallabies Will Genia and James O'Connor. (Photo by Cameron Spencer / Getty Images)

Former Wallabies star Will Genia has praised the “complete transformation” of James O’Connor, saying he’s thrilled to see his former teammate thriving.

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O’Connor’s career was at the crossroads in 2017 when he was arrested in Paris for possessing cocaine.

That incident came after he had fallen out of favour at the Wallabies following a string of off-field incidents.

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O’Connor had lost his passion for the game at the time, and had become a shell of his former self as he battled with drugs, alcohol, and depression.

But the 30-year-old has transformed his life, winning back his Wallabies spot and even being named stand-in skipper at the Queensland Reds earlier this year.

Genia, who is now with Japanese club Kintetsu Liners, has watched on with pride as his good friend came out the other side of his struggles.

“Just as a mate, it’s been great to see his transformation,” Genia said.

“You think about where he’s come from, with the cocaine issues, the prescription drug issues and just losing the enjoyment and passion for playing football.

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“Obviously he had to deal with his issues personally around how he was as a person and how he carried himself.

“I’m just so happy to see – it’s like a complete transformation. He’s now the captain of the Queensland Reds.

“That’s a reflection of how he’s changed the way he is as a person, how much he’s grown, how much he’s matured.

“More than the rugby, I’m just so happy to see he’s come through the other side and come through as such a better person now. That genuinely makes me happy.”

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The Reds sit on top of the Super Rugby AU standings with a perfect 6-0 record, and will be aiming to make it seven straight wins when they take on the Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

– Justin Chadwick

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Tim 1 hours ago
'It’s a mental thing': Joe Schmidt on the Wallabies' flyhalf issues

Ben Donaldson had not played Super Rugby for the past eight weeks. Surely, he was playing Shute Shield for Randwick in that time to keep up the fitness…?? Eight weeks is a long break to be thrust in against a hungry skillful side like Georgia who deserve to be in the “7 Nations”. (Italy, Wales & Scotland v Georgia, can’t wait to see those ones). In the second test against Wales, Donaldson was put on for nine minutes. That was a mistake from the coaching team, who already knew he was starting the following week against Georgia. They should have put him on for 20-25 minutes, with Nick Whyte at halfback, and their combination from the Force would have flowed. Donaldsons first 20 minutes against Georgia was a shocker. However, well done to Joe Schmidt for keeping him out there because Donaldsons game improved as the rust came off, he was hammered a few times and handled it and he came into his groove. He made mistakes which they will all learn from. Ben Donaldson is a naturally talented rugby player who the Wallabies have to stick with at no.10. “Over the black Dot-aldson” is a good nick name for him with his awesome goal kicking style. It looks as though, off the boot, it’s going to hit the post. Then it just curves in beautifully every time, once he is in the groove. Donaldsons play this season for the Force, with Kurtley and co., was amazing to watch. Kurtley making one of the best comebacks in history. Donaldson has to be played consistently with Flash Gordon, Big LEN, McReight, Tupou, Kellaway. Oh, that’s right, there is Bell, Kerevi, Petaia (This list does go on a bit). Donaldson will be slotting these weapons into gaps, and into the clear, before we know it… One more thing which I will just assume is happening, just include JOC in the Wallabies squad. He is a rugby genius. His skills, wisdom and experience would be infectious around the Wallabies relatively inexperienced backline. JOC has mastered the art of all the positions long ago. JOC is so skilled and match fit atm taking THE REDS, at no.10, within a point of beating Wales. He can come off the bench and slot into the backline for the Wallabies at 10, 12, 13 or 15 at any stage of a test match. Ummm yeah, not bad… I am assuming that BIG JOE, Laurie “Gandalf” Fischer, Mike “The scrum Doctor” Cron and the team obviously already know all this. I am just a passionate rugby union supporter, and I am very happy that these guys are in charge of the coaching duties, what a coaching team the Wallabies have been blessed with. (Good luck with selecting the match day 23 when Will Skelton, who was playing amazing rugby for La Rochelle, and the boys return from Europe/Japan, Samu Kerevi…???) Now just imagine having Bernie Larkham, Toutai Kefu, Nathan Grey and John “Nobody” Eales as your coaching apprentices… GO AUSTRALIAN RUGBY… Doing a great job Phil Waugh, Joe Roff, Dan Herbert and the team. An amazing three years ahead. GO THE WALLABIES… GO THE WALLAROOS… GO THE 7’s in Paris…

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