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Genia and Wallabies set for 'war of attrition' with statistically-strong Ireland

Scrum-half Will Genia has done his homework on the visiting Six Nations champions.

Murray Kinsella reports from Brisbane

ISREAL FOLAU MIGHT not have a clue about Ireland but Wallabies scrum-half Will Genia has done his homework.

Joe Schmidt’s squad arrived in Brisbane over the weekend ahead of the opening Test against the Australians this Saturday at Suncorp Stadium, where Irish supporters will make up a good chunk of a crowd of around 45,000.

Folau set a surprising tone in admitting he doesn’t “really know too much” about Ireland yesterday but the experienced Genia showed his awareness in the Monday morning sunshine at the Wallabies’ team hotel in central Brisbane.

Will Genia Genia in action against Ireland in Dublin in 2016. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Two years with Top 14 outfit Stade Français helped Genia to appreciate Ireland’s quality a little more – allowing him to watch their games live – and their impressive current run of 12 consecutive wins under Schmidt has highlighted their strength even further.

Now back playing in Australia with the Melbourne Rebels, Genia understands the challenge facing the Wallabies over the next three weekends.

“They will be incredibly tough,” said the 30-year-old. “They’re number two in the world and they’re playing some really, really good rugby. Statistically, they head a lot of the top-tier nations in a lot of departments.

“[Areas like] ball retention and discipline. They give away the least amount of penalties out of the top 10 nations in rugby and they hold onto the ball for long periods of time.

“It’s going to be a big test as far as our defence goes. In attack, we know we’re not going to get easy ‘outs’ as far as penalties go. I guess you could say it’s going to be a war of attrition in that sense and it’s something we have to prepare for.

“It’s going to be tough for us but it’s in our back yard so a lot of the guys are really excited to rip in.”

SUPER RUGBY REBELS HURRICANES Genia is back playing with the Wallabies. Source: AAP/PA Images

Having Genia set to return from his recent knee injury is among the reasons for Michael Cheika’s Wallabies to be confident that they can bring Ireland’s winning ways to an end.

Genia was in superb form for the Rebels before suffering a grade 2 MCL injury at the start of May and he hasn’t played since.

However, it looks like he has won his race to prove his fitness ahead of the opening Ireland Test and will resume his halfback partnership with Bernard Foley. Even without recent match sharpness, Genia is confident he can perform for the Wallabies.

“As far as conditioning and things like that, I’ve put in the work in the last two or three weeks, so from that point of view, we will see when I get out there if I get picked,” said Genia. “I’m not too worried.

“At the end of the day, footy is footy. I’ll back myself if I get the opportunity.”

Genia could potentially have played for the Rebels in their 20-10 win over the Blues in Auckland last weekend but with his knee not 100% ready, the Australian Rugby Union had an influence in him not rushing back.

Will Genia Genia will be part of a dangerous backline. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

But the former Reds man now looks ready to spark a dangerous Wallabies backline into action, with fullback Israel Folau and centre Kurtley Beale among the threats to Ireland.

Cheika’s side are superb on turnover and kick return, with Genia sensing that the Wallabies’ attacking style could be something Ireland aren’t quite as accustomed to.

“Yeah, I think just the nature of the way Australians play their rugby – we like to attack a lot and use the ball.

“The Wallabies in recent years, since Cheika has taken over, we like ball-in-hand rugby, so if we can bring that and play as well as we can with a few other threats we have – guys like Izzy [Folau] and those aerial threats – hopefully we can find a good balance in our attack to test them with.”

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Murray Kinsella

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