Dazzling Genia saves Wallaby coach
Robbie Deans can thank scrum-half Will Genia for saving his career as the Wallabies’ coach after inspiring Australia’s 27-19 win over Wales at the weekend, Australian newspapers said on Monday.
Genia ran the show for the Wallabies, scoring a dazzling solo try and setting another up for centre Pat McCabe to clinch victory in the first of a three-test series against the Six Nations Grand Slam champions in Brisbane.
Australian rugby commentators lavished praise on the Queensland Reds’ number nine and said his man-of-the-match performance ensured the pressure was off Deans for now.
“Genia was exceptional, reminiscent of George Gregan at his very best in the way he sped from ruck to ruck clearing the ball so quickly and decisively, but way beyond Gregan in the manner in which he threatened the line,” The Australian’s Wayne Smith wrote.
“Arguably, his performance has saved Deans’s career as Wallabies coach.”
Deans and the Wallabies were under fire in the lead-up to Saturday’s test following an abject 9-6 loss to Six Nations wooden-spooners Scotland in wind-swept Newcastle four days earlier.
“Criticism of staging a Tuesday test (against Scotland) was widespread, but even more venomous was the public anger towards a team that could not put away the 12th-ranked side in the world,” The Sydney Morning Herald’s Greg Growden said.
“While Deans had the excuse of having only a few days to prepare, his growing number of detractors countered that he actually had several months to prepare for the Newcastle experience.
“It was bloodletting time. One almighty explosion was looming.
“However, as the Wallabies have so often done, they performed when it was absolutely imperative, outpacing the Welsh, and with it Deans is safe (for the time being) while several out-of-form players chose the moment to remind all they are of test quality.”
The Brisbane Courier-Mail’s Jim Tucker added: “Golden maestro Will Genia ran and schemed the courageous Welsh into despair as the clinical mastermind of test redemption for the Wallabies.
“It again posed the question of highest frustration to Wallaby followers: ’Why does it take a shocker and a slagging off to stir the biggest results and shows of character?’”
The Welsh must win Saturday’s second test in Melbourne to keep the series alive to a decider in Sydney on June 23.
“One victory is not going to silence all the voices calling for Deans’s head, and he is by no means yet out of the woods. Wales showed in the first test a number of qualities that suggest this series is far from over,” The Australian said.
“The tourists proved they are resilient and don’t lie down and clearly they have the capacity to learn on the run, quite literally so.”