Genia, Cooper join player exodus

PLAYMAKING partners Will Genia and Quade Cooper are heading to Japan as the ultimate package deal after the Rugby World Cup.

Japanese club Kintetsu Liners announced on Thursday the dual signings as the trigger to drag them out of second division next season.

The news means the storied halves pairing have played their last Super Rugby in Australia after a lengthy highlights reel for the Queensland Reds and Melbourne Rebels.

The sheer magnitude of what they have contributed to Super Rugby in this country is measured way beyond Genia (137) and Cooper (133) amassing 270 games.

 

They glued eyeballs on a dynamic era for the Reds when they shared the 2011 title and the opening half of this season with the Rebels produced plenty of vintage plays.

Both are 31 and with more than 60 Tests caps apiece which means they are both available, under the "Giteau Law", for Wallabies' selection if needed next year.

Their careers have gone full circle because they were youngsters on the bench in Tokyo in 2006 when then-Reds boss Eddie Jones blooded them for Queensland against Japan.

Will Genia is Australia’s first-choice halfback. Picture: Rugby Australia/Stuart Walmsley
Will Genia is Australia’s first-choice halfback. Picture: Rugby Australia/Stuart Walmsley

Genia remains the Wallabies' top halfback, even with a grumbling knee, and seems certain to be in the gold No.9 for his 101st Test against South Africa in Johannesburg on July 20.

Genia is upbeat that having 1999 World Cup-winner George Gregan as a part-time mentor for all the Wallabies' halfbacks will tune detail in each No.9s game.

"He has a lot of knowledge to bring and having his eyes on what we do can help us all as halfbacks," Genia said for Joe Powell, Nic White, Nick Phipps and Jake Gordon too.

Flyhalf Cooper missed out on the tour squad but remains an option on the No.10s list with Bernard Foley, Matt Toomua, Christian Lealiifano and Kurtley Beale.

Japan's domestic season has been juggled to accommodate the World Cup with a later January, 2020 start for the new season.

Reds captain Samu Kerevi is also off to Japan. Picture: Getty Images
Reds captain Samu Kerevi is also off to Japan. Picture: Getty Images

Samu Kerevi (Suntory) and David Pocock (Panasonic Wild Knights) had already committed to Japanese clubs after the World Cup as part of an exodus of players.

For the Rebels, the impact is most immediate because they need to groove a new halves pairing after flopping in the latter stages of the season when a finals spot beckoned.

Recently signing lively Fijian halfback Frank Lomani is a good start with Michael Ruru already on the books.

The new Rebels No.10 will be as simple as Toomua stepping up after he played at flyhalf against the Crusaders in the final fortnight of the recent regular season.

THE LOST XV: Israel Folau, Sefa Naivalu (Stade Francais, France), Samu Kerevi (Suntory, Japan), Duncan Paia'aua (Toulon, France), Curtis Rona (London Irish, England), Quade Cooper (Kintetsu Liners, Japan), Will Genia (Kintetsu Liners, Japan), Scott Higginbotham (Bordeaux, France), David Pocock (Panasonic Wild Knights, Japan), Caleb Timu (Montpellier, France), Rory Arnold (Toulouse, France), Adam Coleman (London Irish, England), Sam Carter (Ulster, Northern Ireland), Sekope Kepu (London Irish, England), Sam Talakai (Suntory, Japan).

News Corp Australia


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