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Rugby - Wallabies scrumhalf Genia signs two-year deal with Rebels

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Rugby - Wallabies scrumhalf Genia signs two-year deal with Rebels

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Wallabies scrumhalf Will Genia has signed a two-year deal with the Melbourne Rebels in a major coup for the struggling Super Rugby club. The 29-year-old had been expected to slot back into his old team, the Queensland Reds, after returning home from a stint with Parisian club Stade Francais. But last week, Genia cast doubt on a return to the team where he won the 2011 championship under coach Ewen McKenzie, citing the Reds’ full complement of scrumhalves. The 78-test veteran instead joins a team that finished bottom of the Australian conference with a solitary win and was only recently assured of continuing in the competition next season after a protracted process to cull a local side. The Australian Rugby Union said in April it would axe either the Rebels or the Western Force as Super Rugby contracts from 18 teams to 15 next year, but the governing body only announced its decision to remove the Force last Friday. The Force are still fighting to remain in Super Rugby and have lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court of New South Wales which will be heard next week. “I’m really looking forward to joining the guys down in Melbourne, they have a great young team with plenty still to achieve in Super Rugby, so I’m excited to get stuck in 2018,” Genia said in a statement. “First and foremost I’m there to contribute to the desired success of the club on the field through my performance and ability as a player. “After that, it’ll be a great chance to bring some of the things I’ve learned over the years to the club, and help drive the club forward.” The Rebels are yet to make the playoffs since joining the competition in 2011 and endured a terrible, injury-blighted season in 2017 as players toiled under the threat of an uncertain future. The team is looking for a new coach after former Munster boss and Wallabies assistant Tony McGahan ended his four-year tenure at the end of the regular season. Force coach Dave Wessels has been linked with the role, if the Perth team loses its legal fight and is dissolved. Earlier this month, former owner Andrew Cox handed the Rebels’ licence back to the sport’s state governing body, the Victorian Rugby Union, in a move both parties said had secured the team’s future in Super Rugby. The Rebels have since announced a raft of new signings, with former Wallaby Tetera Faulkner crossing from the Force on a two-year deal and Japan number eight Amanaki Mafi taking a one-year extension. Genia, who has captained the Wallabies a number of times and played at the 2011 and 2015 World Cups, is expected to start in Michael Cheika’s side in the Rugby Championship opener against the All Blacks in Sydney on Saturday.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)
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