‘The pinnacle’: Genia rates winning Bledisloe above World Cup
THE William Webb Ellis Cup might be the Holy Grail of rugby.
But for Will Genia, the Wallabies halfback says winning a Bledisloe Cup against trans-Tasman rivals the All Blacks would rank higher than claiming the World Cup.
"To me, it's the pinnacle," Genia said.
"The World Cup is obviously up there, but how often do you get to play the best team in the world three times and have to win two out of three to win a trophy?
"I've been trying for a while now, so I'm really looking forward to another crack."
It's been 16 years since the Wallabies last beat the All Blacks in a series and lifted the Bledisloe Cup.
George Gregan was the Wallabies' captain the last time Australia won the series in 2002, All Blacks great Dan Carter hadn't even made his debut at that point, the first iPhone was still the best part of five years away from turning on and John Howard was only halfway through his Prime Ministership.
Ahead of Saturday's Bledisloe opener at Sydney's Olympic Park, only seven of the All Blacks' 32-man squad to travel to Sydney haven't drunk from the Bledisloe Cup.
Conversely, George Smith's recent departure back to England means not one player currently playing in Australia has held the trophy aloft.
But as All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has constantly reminded Australians over the past week though, the Wallabies won the last content between the two, with Michael Cheika's side claiming a morale boosting win in Brisbane last October.
By that point, however, the series was already decided after the All Blacks went to an unassailable 2-0 lead following wins in Sydney and Dunedin to start the Rugby Championship.
While Genia didn't go as far as saying the Bledisloe Cup was harder to win than the World Cup, the crafty No 9 said playing the All Blacks in a series made it all the more difficult.
"I haven't won a World Cup, so I'm not going to say it's harder," said Genia, who has played at two World Cups and started in the No 9 jersey in their 2015 final loss to New Zealand.
"But I will say for me it's the No 1 priority.
"Just because they're the best team in world for the last 15-20 years, back-to-back World Cup winners, you have to beat them two times out of three to win that trophy.
"That makes it incredibly difficult and also will make it incredibly special if we're fortunate enough to do it."
Despite Hansen's best efforts to play the underdog card, the All Blacks are heavy favourites to claim the first Test and the series following their 3-0 series win over France and New Zealand's dominance during the Super Rugby competition.
While Genia said the Wallabies had prepared as well as they possibly could have, he added that you always "feel good going into a series" but it came down to delivering right from the opening whistle.
"In the last 15 or so years we haven't won it you could probably say each and every time we've turned up, we're ready, (but) you've just got to make sure you're ready on game day," Genia said.
It's something they weren't able to do last year after being blown off the park in the first half to trail 40-6 at the main break, before rallying in the second half.
Genia said that playing with intensity and matching the physicality of the All Blacks was the key for a Wallabies victory.
"I just think intensity, making sure you're in their faces for the entire 80 minutes," Genia said.
"They're a good team that if you give them an opportunity, give them a sniff, they take it whether it's in defence, whether it's in attack.
"Just being relentless in terms of the pressure you apply on them with the ball, without the ball and just bringing that physicality as well.
"I think that was a big trademark of our game when we played them the last time in Brisbane."
Genia, a veteran of 90 Tests, added that it was important that the playing group forget about the aura of the All Blacks and focus purely on themselves.
"When I was a little bit younger you certainly feel that respect and you sort of take it out on the field, and that's sort of a mental barrier that you've got to cross before you ever start to play against them," Genia said.
"But getting a little bit older and having played them for a while now, it's not really about them, and I don't mean that disrespectfully, it's about concentrating on what you can do and doing your job to the best of your ability.
"If we can have that mindset: old, young or however many games you've played, we certainly give ourselves as much of a shot as we can."
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