Genia hits out over ‘brutal’ Cheika treatment

Will Genia is disappointed at the pile-on to "kick Michael Cheika when he's down" after flying home gutted at the Wallabies' early Rugby World Cup exit.

The champion halfback's 110-Test career came to an abrupt stop at full-time with last weekend's 40-16 quarter-final crash to England in Japan.

Genia, 31, flagged months ago that the tournament would be his last hurrah in the gold jersey just as David Pocock and Sekope Kepu had done as decorated senior figures.

 

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Genia said he felt for his Wallabies coach of five years after Cheika fell on his sword and resigned within 24 hours of the harsh defeat.

"It's pretty brutal in that sense. More than anything, I'm disappointed in a lot of people kicking him when he's down," Genia said at Brisbane Airport on Tuesday.

"The guy served for five years and he was obviously good at his job to keep it that long.

"I feel he deserved an opportunity to be celebrated as much as the players who were finishing like Poey, Keps and I."

 

Genia walks from the field for the last time as a Wallaby. Picture: Getty
Genia walks from the field for the last time as a Wallaby. Picture: Getty

Genia said the detail, fallout and emotions of events in Oita last Saturday were still raw.

"I'm still gutted and haven't really processed it all yet," Genia said.

"It's pretty sad...the last time you play for your country, the last time you travel on the bus, the last time you sit with your teammates in the dressing room, the last time you wear this team suit.

"It's a lot of lasts.

"I just know it is a full stop because you pack your bags and leave straight away."

 

Michael Cheika (L) has found an ally in veteran halfback Will Genia. Picture: Getty
Michael Cheika (L) has found an ally in veteran halfback Will Genia. Picture: Getty

Genia said through all the desolation of a snuffed-out dream he had the mixed emotions of taking in the final lap of his 11-year Test career.

"I think I was the last one off the field after the quarter-final because I was just trying to soak it up for the last time," Genia said.

"I enjoyed the whole World Cup experience and feel really grateful I got to finish wearing the No.9 on my back."

Genia saw a far brighter future for the Wallabies than those still angry in the fog of losses to Wales and England at the World Cup.

"I see really good things ahead. Across the group, there are a lot of guys at 22-to-27 who have played 20-70 Tests already," Genia said.

Prop Allan Alaalatoa, winger Reece Hodge, hooker Tolu Latu, lock Izack Rodda, flanker Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, prop Scott Sio and winger Marika Koroibete all have that profile.

Reece Hodge is one of the players earmarked as the future of the Wallabies. Picture: Getty
Reece Hodge is one of the players earmarked as the future of the Wallabies. Picture: Getty

Powerhouse prop Taniela Tupou, already with 19 Tests at 23, backrower Jack Dempsey and hooker Folau Faingaa have now played more than 10 Tests while backrower Isi Naisarani's rapid education has been eight Tests in just three months.

"There's a lot of experience mixed in with a lot of youth and, in my opinion, our forward pack is one of the best in the world," Genia said.

"We have exciting young backs coming through and none more so than Jordan Petaia.

"Hopefully, there is someone put in charge who can take them in the right direction."

Petaia's classy quarter-final effort at just 19 in his first run-on role as a Test outside centre was a huge positive.

He soared high to defuse England's first kick and ran strongly through a Tom Curry tackle and that was just in the opening 70 seconds.

Petaia was understandable muted when he flew in.

"I'm devastated like everyone is," Petaia said.

"I was really stoked to get my debut and, definitely, I want to play more next year."

Prop Tupou was also still coming to terms with a World Cup he can now only watch on TV.

"So much hard work was put in and we're home earlier than any of us expected. It's hard, very hard," Tupou said.

"But, you come back strong. I'll be back into it next year."