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Starter or finisher, Wallaby Genia ready for Wales

Starter or finisher, Wallaby Genia ready for Wales
FILE PHOTO: Australia's Will Genia during training, Ebetsu, Japan, September 19, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra -
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PETER CZIBORRA(Reuters)
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By Nick Mulvenney

TOKYO (Reuters) – Wallabies scrumhalf Will Genia is happy to start or come off the bench for the crunch Pool D match against Wales this weekend but either way he is expecting an epic encounter with the Six Nations champions.

With both sides having opened their campaigns with victories, Sunday’s match in Tokyo should decide which of them tops the pool and gets an easier run through the knockout stage.

Genia has started 91 of the 106 tests he has played for his country since 2009 but was tapping his heels on the bench for the start of the 39-21 win over Fiji in the first match of his third World Cup.

Although he was widely accredited with sparking Australia’s comeback against the physical Pacific islanders in Sapporo, the 31-year-old said he would not be concerned at all if he again found himself among the replacements on Sunday.

“I’m happy doing whatever,” he told reporters in Chiba on Tuesday.

“I don’t mind, I’m just happy to contribute to the team in whatever positive way I can.

“Whether that’s start or finish the game, playing five minutes, 10 minutes, 60 minutes, whatever it is, I’m more than happy doing whatever is required of me for team.”

Nic White won the scrumhalf starting spot ahead of Genia mostly on the back of an electric display in the thrashing of the All Blacks in Perth last month.

But when the Wallabies were trailing Fiji and needed to exert control by playing a tighter game, there was only one man for the job and the little general was summoned from the pine.

Genia said that when he was on the bench he was able to identify areas where he could make a difference.

“Experience helps with that as well, you know what to look for, you know how to change the way the game’s going when you get on because of that experience,” he added.

“Coming off the bench you have that benefit of seeing what’s working, what’s not working and trying to make an impact that way.”

Genia has won all but one of the 12 tests he has played against Wales, including in the third place playoff at the 2011 World Cup and a tight 15-6 victory in a pool match at the 2015 tournament in England.

A 56th minute yellow card ended Genia’s involvement in the latter match at Twickenham but his memories apart from that are of a bruising contest.

“I was pretty disappointed but it was just an immense defensive effort,” he said.

Genia said he expected the Wallabies would have to produce something similar on Sunday against a Wales side who were as patient with the ball as they were without it.

“They are a very, very good defensive side so it’s going to be hard to break them down with ball in hand,” he said.

“They’ve got a lot of the fundamentals of the game covered really well. From our perspective, it’s probably just coming up with a strategy that we think can expose any sort of chinks that we see.”

(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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