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Genia working hard to sync up with 'adaptable' O'Connor

The young utility back is a minor fitness concern for Australia this week.

Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

WALLABY SCRUM-HALF WILL Genia today backed his new half-back partner James O’Connor despite warnings the British and Irish Lions will likely target his lack of experience at fly-half in the Test series starting next week.

O’Connor has played just one of his 37 internationals at fly-half, in December 2011, and critics believe he could be exposed as a potential weak link against the Lions.

But Genia, who initially wanted his Queensland Reds teammate Quade Cooper to continue as his partner, said he was confident O’Connor was shaping up well for the three-Test series.

Genia, one of the Wallabies’ big weapons for the coming series, said he had quickly struck up a strong combination with O’Connor in training and team planning over the past two weeks.

“The good thing about James is he’s really open and he doesn’t push back,” Genia told Australian Associated Press. “He’s happy to adapt and happy to learn. I really enjoy working with him.

“We’ve worked hard going through plays and going through the structure that we want the team to play to make sure we are on the same page.”

AAP said O’Connor has had his workload carefully managed while in the Wallabies’ training camp on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast this week due to muscle tightness, sitting out an opposed session against a local club team.

Although Genia last month made it known Cooper was his preferred halves partner and felt his Queensland teammate brought out the best in his own game, he denied he had any problems with coach Robbie Deans’s decision to go with O’Connor.

“As a mate, for (Cooper), it’s obviously disappointing but, once you are here, you put a line through it and you move on,” he said. “I think that’s the important thing.

“This group is here and striving to achieve something successful and you have to have buy-in from everyone.

“You can’t have guys worrying about this or that.”

- © AFP, 2013

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