Wallabies to play as though careers on the line
WILL Genia has made a glory-or-bust pledge to topple England and his first coach, Eddie Jones, as if they are "the last 80 minutes I'll ever play for my country."
That will be the champion halfback's blazing mindset for Saturday's cut-throat quarter-final at the Rugby World Cup where only victory can extend his 11-year Wallabies' career into another week.
Three weeks of patchy pool play, praising underdog opponents and fiddling with positions is at an end.
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The Wallabies must get ruthless on the big selection call to play the more creative Christian Lealiifano over Matt To'omua at five-eighth and banish the errors of chronic poor execution in the first 30 minutes to lead England from the kick-off.
Genia, 31, was pitched into his first game for Queensland off the bench in Tokyo in late 2006 when Reds coach Jones first spied something special in a shy 18-year-old.
Genia warned that the canny Jones would have tricks saved especially for the Wallabies after showing fewer cards than a Las Vegas poker expert in three routine pool wins.
A high kick to the tryline for soaring English catchers above land-locked Marika Koroibete on the wing would be one killer tactic as well as a sweet set play deception in midfield to open up the Wallabies.
"Real excited. England are a very physical team, like to outmuscle you, obviously play the territory game really well and they've held the wood over us the last couple of the years," Genia said.
"It could be the last 80 minutes I ever play for my country.
"Pouring everything into it is my approach and everyone else's.
"You don't want be going out in the quarter-finals."
The high-energy tag team at halfback of Nic White starting and Genia adding pace and polish to the finish is one area that is clicking for the Wallabies.
Genia is expecting tricks from Jones but eliminating the glitches to the Wallabies' attack is the top priority because six or seven clear try chances were bombed in pool play despite 20 being scored.
"He's very crafty and you assume he'll have something in his back pocket for us," Genia said of Jones.
Toomua was mostly crisp and straight-forward against Georgia and Jones would happily duel with him rather than Lealiifano, whose deft sleight of hand for the classy Reece Hodge try off a scrum against Argentina in Brisbane is still the best set play of the Wallabies' season.
Winger-fullback Dane Haylett-Petty said the presence of White at halfback and James O'Connor in the centres was vindication of the move to bring them back from England this year.
"James has definitely brought experience and a bit of calming to the backline and Nic White is Energiser bunny always testing forwards around the ruck (with a dart) to keep them accountable." Haylett-Petty said.
Big-hearts, character and nailing key plays can win this for what is a warts-and-all Wallabies outfit.
O'Connor's distribution from outside centre may be good but his cross-field steps and lack of an incisive burst have been exposed at times.
The Wallabies' bench has been a turbo in every game, even to the 80th minute of the 27-8 win over Georgia when 100-Test milestone man Rob Simmons threw a great off-load to Taniela Tupou, who fed Genia for the try. All were bench assets.
Goalkicking? Toomua was three-from-three before two late misses and 60 per cent won't cut it against England. Another tie-breaker to Lealiifano.
Coach Michael Cheika said fullback Kurtley Beale was feeling fine in the dressing room after that game following his head knock and the eight-day turnaround to the quarter-final would help him be fit to face England.