Saturday 20 January 2018

Genia revelling in 'passion and intensity tour brings'

Duncan Bech

Will Genia will cherish a unique moment in his career when Australia and the Lions collide in today's series decider at ANZ Stadium.

While the 2001 Wallabies were initially unaware of what Lions tours meant – their out-half Steve Larkham has said they thought French players were involved – the 2013 squad have recognised their rarity value from the start.

The series has thrust rugby union, which struggles for exposure in a fiercely competitive Australian sports market, back into the minds of the public Down Under, supplying a welcome cash injection in the process.

Whatever the outcome of the third and final Test Genia, who is leading the voting in the race to be named player of the series, will reflect on a special opportunity.

"I'll never forget this. Living and breathing it now, I feel so lucky, blessed and privileged to be here and be a part of this series," the Queensland Reds scrum-half said.

"It happens once every 12 years. It's incredible to be a part of the intensity and passion a Lions tour brings to Australia.

"It's something I'll look back on and will have fond memories of, regardless of what happens on the weekend. I've loved every second of it."

For the Lions, inside-centre Jamie Roberts and No 8 Toby Faletau will be making their first Test appearances on tour, while Mike Phillips is restored at scrum-half.

In particular, these three of the six changes made following the 16-15 defeat in Melbourne offer brute strength over subtlety.

The Lions "really enjoy the physical side of things", said Genia. "They're masters of the set-piece, they like to play that stop-start game where they get to the set-piece, get ascendancy and look to take three points wherever they can and assert themselves on the game that way."

Genia knows exactly what Phillips and Roberts will bring, saying: "Phillips likes to get his hands on the ball and run and get stuck in. Jamie brings that direct running game and he's big and hard to stop.

"The focus on him is to make sure we tackle low and don't allow him to get too much over the advantage line and get them front foot ball.

"That's been a big focus for us all week."

Irish Independent

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