Time for action: Australia has spoilt PNG rotten
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After all the praise, just how good is Will Genia

BY DONALD HOOK

In action How good is Will Genia?

This is the question dominating discussion among Rugby followers around the world.

It comes after Genia’s meteoric rise through Australian Rugby this year, and his man of the match performance for the Wallabies in their 18-9 win against England in his debut appearance at Twickenam.

The international media has really taken to the pint-sized 21-year-old scrum half who was born in Port Moresby, and is being hailed as Australia’s long-term solution for halfback.

The president of an English rugby club in Cumbria told PNG Attitude that stories about Genia began appearing in the British media soon after the Wallaby squad was chosen.

“Media coverage increased in the week leading into the game against England. At first, we thought it was a publicity stunt. But after his performance, there’s no doubt about it, you’ve got a good one,” he said.

Rugby writers for the major British national newspapers have been lavish in their praise of Genia.

Former England five-eighth Stuart Barnes wrote in The Sunday Times that Genia is destined for greatness. “He is developing at such a rate that come the 2011 World Cup he is going to be one of the outstanding pivots in the world game.”

In the same newspaper, chief rugby writer Stephen Jones said the ghost of the great George Gregan had finally been laid to rest. “Genia is a diamond, splendidly sharp and with many facets to his game.”

Former England second rower Paul Ackford in The Sunday Telegraph described Genia as “the new George Gregan. Quick and decisive. A real find for the Wallabies.”

In the same newspaper, Mark Reason compared Genia to former Wallabies skipper and halfback Nick Farr Jones. He wrote: “Playing halfback at rugby is all about understanding time and relative dimension in space. Genia seems to have a pretty shrewd grasp of physics.”

Australian coach Robbie Deans says Genia is very calm for a young man. He lauded him for his courage, poise and vision “He’s offering us a lot in terms of being the hinge between the front and back.”

But Deans has warned Genia that the battle has only just begun, and that he must adapt and diversify his skill set if he is to become a top-class halfback. “It is vital he does not relax or convince himself that what worked against England would always work.”

And how does the guitar playing Sanchez William Genia – to give him his full name – react to all the publicity?

“You’ve got to be excited,” he says, “and look forward to the challenge because it’s an opportunity you never want to take for granted, playing for your country.”

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