Rugby World Cup: Will Genia gets the nod for Australia opener

Take the referee out of the contest.


Australia has reunited loose forwards Michael Hooper and David Pocock in a team similar to that which beat New Zealand 27-19 last month, for its opening Rugby World Cup match against Fiji in Cardiff on Thursday (NZT).

Overusing replays and drawn out decisions have earned the ire of fans and players alike as 40-minute halves drag on for close to an hour.

Cheika is looking at giving all players game time in the opening rounds of the tournament, with the Wallabies set to play Uruguay on a short four-day turnaround at Villa Park, Birmingham next Sunday.

Australia have only played nine Tests under Cheika, but picked up along the Wallabies’ progress their first Rugby Championship in August against New Zealand. That’s the way it’s going to be on the field as well, we may as well get used to it. It’s a game where the humble usually succeed, you know what I mean? What we’re saying to ourselves, it doesn’t matter what happens, we’ve got to find a way.

We have the capacity in the backs to win a World Cup if we give them the time and space, but that’s where my antennae vibrate nervously. “I think that all the teams who are coming here now more often… are believing that they can win, as opposed to coming here just to participate”.

But can he help cause a boilover in the tournament opener, by upsetting England?

The Auckland-born Cooper was at the centre of a media storm at the 2011 World Cup, where he was made public enemy No1 by the rugby-loving nation. They’ve been fierce opponents, obviously.

It is leading to lengthy stoppages which affect the flow of the game.

Tough scrum: Chris Robshaw of England looks on in the scrum during the match against Fiji.

“Anything can happen in the World Cup – that’s why it’s such a special tournament”, Cooper said smiling.

That’s why Will Skelton copped a verbal lashing from Cheika at training this week when he threw a ill-advised offload, which hit the ground and stunted play.

Cheika said he was very comfortable with Pocock playing No.8.

“There are some negatives to his name, but I think they are a much different team when he is there and a better team all round”.

Utility back Rob Horne wished the versatile Volavola well and said there were several reasons why it didn’t work – all of which ultimately came down to circumstance.

Cheika was at Twickenham on Friday night to watch Fiji, although curiously he claimed not to have seen England playing at all.

“[In 2011] I was away, as I was the one before”.


“I found the smile had gone off the faces of a lot of the people involved, inside and outside the group, on and off the paddock”, the highly articulate but undeniably pugnacious Sydneysider said, describing his first impressions of the Wallaby squad on succeeding Ewen McKenzie as commander-in-chief a little under a year ago.

Will Genia is a veteran of 60 international Tests for Australia