Queensland Reds’ Will Genia has racked up 34 caps since his 2009 Australia debut, winning the 2011 Super Rugby and Tri-Nations titles along the way. What else should we know about the Wallaby wonder?
Growing up in Papua New Guinea was very different. I was fortunate that my parents worked hard and we went to international schools, but we couldn’t venture too far beyond our street because it was quite dangerous.
My father used to be a politician. A lot of people would come to our house so we didn’t get much privacy. It was frustrating at times; it would be 35°C and I’d want to jump in the pool but loads of people would be sitting around it.
I’ve got a strong belief in God. I used to go to church every Saturday. Even now I play rugby at weekends I live my life based on my religious beliefs.
I’d cry every time I was dropped off at boarding school. I went to Brisbane Boys’ College when I was 12 and it was a big change. I’d get homesick a lot but my older brother was there and he’d help me through it. He gave me a bit of stick but that made me more independent. I’m grateful to him for not being too soft, otherwise I’d have kept depending on him.
Team sports are the best. I’d never played any until going to boarding school, where rugby union was the main sport. I love the fact you have to do things together, that people rely on you and you rely on them to do their jobs. I get so much satisfaction if we do well and it’s down to working as a team.
I was a chubby kid. I’ll end up being chubby when I finish too! As I was a Pacific Islands kid the school obviously thought I’d be good at rugby and they started me on the wing. I then moved slowly inwards to centre and then half-back. I was told I’d never be as good as my brother.
In school Frankie also played at half-back and he was really good. That spurred me on to be as good as him, if not better.
I can’t cook. The only thing I can really cook is rice and that could get pretty boring!
I didn’t believe I’d make it in rugby. My school coach, Chris Lane, was the first guy who said to me, ‘You can do this’. He saw potential in me. My parents supported me for a year when I finished school so I could do everything I could to make it in rugby. Chris did a lot of work with me and we do a lot of work together to this day.
I like being in charge ‒ little man syndrome! At half-back you get so many touches on the ball that you get to control a lot of the game. I like being the decision-maker.
My first game of senior rugby was for the Reds. Eddie Jones spotted me playing for Queensland U19 and brought me in to train with the Reds’ main group. Sam Cordingley then got injured and I made my Super Rugby debut in 2007. It was a big jump – I remember sweating after a few minutes of the warm-up in my first session!
I can come down hard on people. I don’t like to talk too much but if I feel like something needs to be said, I’ll say it. I feel I’ve got the respect of the players so I’m able to speak my mind.
My philosophy on life is to enjoy it. It sounds really simple and stupid, but the more time spent getting bogged down by frustrations or getting upset about things, the less time you have to be happy and enjoy the things you have.
I once bench-pressed 172kg. Without sounding too arrogant, I was pretty impressed when I did it and I actually got it up pretty easily. I was 85kg at the time and for my weight I can lift quite heavy weights. Now I’m 81kg and lifting about 150kg.
I recently caught a fish a metre long. I go fishing as much as I can, especially back in PNG. The last time I was there I caught a big yellowfin tuna. I rarely use rods but this time I did and caught it within 15 minutes.
I can’t pick my best rugby moment ‒ I’ve got three. Winning the Super Rugby title – having been at the Reds when we were down in the doldrums it was a big reward for everyone involved. Seeing people crying in the stands is something I’ll never forget. Also, winning the Tri-Nations title for the first time in ten years and having the opportunity to play in a World Cup, the showpiece of the sport, which was fantastic.
I’m the best player in the Reds squad ‒ on Fifa! It’s between Quade Cooper and I as to who’s the best on PlayStation. He’s talked a big game lately but I haven’t been able to test him yet.
I’d like to play overseas. I watch a lot of Heineken Cup and French Top 14 games on TV. It’s an opportunity to play different rugby and as a young player you can only be better for it. I’m off contract at the end of this year so I’m exploring opportunities at the moment and I’m definitely interested in going overseas at some stage.
I don’t take anything for granted. I love the game and every time I’m on the field I try to be the best I can be. If that means playing more for the Reds, the Wallabies or overseas, great. I just want to continue to enjoy playing the game.
This article appeared in the May 2012 issue of Rugby World Magazine.
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