Olympic allure appeals to Australia scrum-half Will Genia with prospect of sevens inclusion for Rio 2016

Genia has revealed it could take as little as a tap on the shoulder to consider going to Brazil for the Olympic

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A tap on the shoulder might be all Will Genia needs to fire himself up for a bid to represent Australia in rugby sevens at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Wallabies scrumhalf said.

Rugby makes its Olympic debut at Rio in the sevens format and places on the Games squad are likely to be fiercely contested among regular team members and hopefuls in the 15-man game.

The 26-year-old Genia, one of the world's top scrum-halves in a 55-cap career with the Wallabies, would need to sacrifice regular rugby straight after the 2015 World Cup in England to train hard and make himself available for sevens selection.

"If I got given the opportunity, I'd love to go to the Rio Olympics," Genia told Reuters in an interview.

"That'd be special. That's unbelievable that the sevens will be at the Olympics. If I was ever lucky enough to have that opportunity, that would be pretty special.

"If someone said to me something about it, yeah, I would (try). You'd become an Olympian. That's pretty big."

Despite permitting himself a brief moment to fantasise, the Papua New Guinea-born number nine is wary about talking too far down the track, knowing the twists, turns and temptations that seasoned players confront when pondering their long-term career options.

In the engine room of a once-mighty Super Rugby side that has stuttered to three wins and four losses early in the season, Genia is more focused on helping the Queensland Reds get their campaign back on track rather than representing Australia in any format.

The Wallabies' first season under his former Reds coach Ewen McKenzie also gave Genia a new, if not very welcome, perspective of his place in the game, when he was dropped to the bench for tests against New Zealand and South Africa last year.

Though out of form and battling niggles from a knee injury sustained during the British and Irish Lions series, the demotion was controversial for a player regarded a successor to Australia's great scrum-half George Gregan.

Genia inevitably bounced back to be reinstated in the Wallabies lineup for a successful season-ending tour of Europe, but says he has not been in touch with McKenzie since.

"I haven't thought about it at all. Ewen will pick who he feels is playing well at the time and is going to do the job for him," said Genia, who surrendered the number nine shirt to the ACT Brumbies' Nic White last year before wresting it back.

"To be honest, I haven't thought about it. At the moment with the Reds, we've got a lot of work to do to catch up on the competition but also start firing on all cylinders to give us a chance of pushing further in the competition.

"If I get picked, I get picked. If I don't, I don't."

Australia play France in a three-test series in June, meaning the time for hopefuls to impress McKenzie with provincial level form is now.

Genia has been solid without hitting the brilliant heights of his 2011 campaign, when he and mercurial halves partner Quade Cooper drove the Queensland team to the championship with some breathtaking displays of skill and creativity.

The Reds forwards have also battled to match their Australian rivals in the southern hemisphere tournament which also features South Africa and New Zealand teams, cutting Genia and Cooper's time and space to weave their magic.

A crunch match against last year's finalists, the Brumbies, looms at home in Brisbane on Friday and a loss to the conference leaders would put the Reds' hopes of making the playoffs on a knife edge.

However, the more competitive Australian conference, with three local teams in the top six as the season approaches the halfway mark, bode well for the Wallabies' international season, Genia said.

"It's obviously good for Australian rugby. Australia's always been seen as the weak conference but if you look at the top six as it stands now... I think we're doing well," he said.

After the France series, Australia will renew hostilities with New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina in the Rugby Championship.

The Wallabies endured a tough tournament against the southern hemisphere powers last year, trounced repeatedly by the champion All Blacks to lose the Bledisloe Cup trophy fought between the Antipodean rivals for an 11th straight year.

The trick for the Wallabies would be to pick up where they left off in Europe, Genia said, when they finished the season with four straight wins over northern hemisphere sides.

"It's about building on that momentum and that confidence and starting well in June," he added.

"For the Rugby Championship, it's obviously going in there with every intention to win it, and win the Bledisloe and start winning trophies again.

"You can't go in there scarred by all the disappointments of previous years, you've got to go in there fresh and really ready to give the competition a red hot crack."