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The boys are back: Genia and Cooper ready to resume 'seamless' partnership vs Ireland

The half-backs can create carnage together if they are on form.

Going into the last World Cup, Cooper and Genia were the form half-backs in the world.
Going into the last World Cup, Cooper and Genia were the form half-backs in the world.
Image: Inpho/Billy Stickland

IT IS HARD to be certain at this stage, but it looks like Michael Cheika is putting the band back together. Adam Ashley-Cooper is still there, Kurtley Beale has been brought back after Whatsappgate, Quade Cooper has returned to the panel and Will Genia is slowly being weaned back into the first team after his recent injury problems.

Three members of that dynamic 2010-2011 backline that had Australia as World Cup dark horses and Tri-Nations champions are now exiled/earning massive cheques in France (Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau and James O’Connor), but Israel Folau almost fills the void left by all three.

That backline was razor sharp and exploited any space given to them by the opposition.

Source: TheScrumy9/YouTube

Will Genia and Quade Cooper were sprung from the bench last week when the game vs France looked over but quickly the duo exploded into life and the home side were clinging on at the end.

The scrum-half was delighted to resume his fruitful partnership with Cooper at international level last weekend.

“It was really good to get back out there and add some tempo,” Genia said.

“That combination [him and Cooper] is something that I am very comfortable with. Being familiar with him – we have played a lot of test matches together – made it easier.

“I think it was seamless [the duo playing together again at international level], just because we are so comfortable with each other and familiar. I felt like when we came on we added a bit of tempo at the end.”

It is also worth remembering from an Irish perspective that although Genia and Cooper’s star has faded somewhat in the last year, one of the last times they started together was in Australia’s mauling of Ireland in Joe Schmidt’s second game in charge.

Since then, Genia has almost become the forgotten man at international level. After terrorising the Lions in 2013, injuries meant that he hasn’t played a major role in the recent scandal-hit Australian sides.

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However, he admits that his performances over the last year weren’t up to his usual standard but doesn’t use injuries as an excuse.

“Playing bad games is playing bad games,” Genia said.

“I’m not going to use injuries as an excuse for that. When you don’t play well you don’t play well.”

Given the talent at Michael Cheika’s disposal, it is almost frightening to think what the team would look like if he had his overseas contingent to call on – particularly that Toulon trio. Genia says the squad focus on the personnel they have available to them rather than who they are missing out on – a similar ethos to that of the Irish squad in the face of so many injury-enforced absentees.

The scrum-half then spoke about Israel Folau and the role he plays for Australia.

“Israel is an absolute superstar,” Genia said.

“He has only been playing the game two years and he is still learning some of the intricacies of the game but he understands his positioning very well at fullback.

“He is learning how to be a little more of a playmaker and if he masters that a little bit more I think he will make another step forward again.”

This Saturday will be Australia’s third game under Cheika and Genia seems impressed by his new coach – giving mention to how tough a job it was to win the Super Rugby title with the Waratahs. Judging by Genia’s portrayal of the Australian camp, the honeymoon period is definitely still in effect. He also thinks the personnel in the squad are suited to the balance Cheika likes between forward and back play.

Everyone is excited about the way he wants to play the game and everyone has bought into the way he wants to play the game. I think we have the players to play that kind of game. The good thing about about Cheika is – even though he is planning for the World Cup – that each time you play a test match you are representing your country. They are all standalone games and you have to make sure you front up. We aren’t thinking about England or the World Cup, we are focusing on playing a good game against Ireland.

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