Will Genia keen to play in New Zealand, picks Beauden Barrett in All Blacks No 10 debate

Wallabies great Will Genia has expressed a desire to play in New Zealand and has entered the debate on the All Blacks’ No 10 position, preferring Beauden Barrett ahead of Richie Mo’unga.

Halfback Genia, a former Australian captain with 110 tests for the Wallabies in a career that has taken him around the world, now plays club rugby in Japan on the back of a successful stint in France.

He’s no stranger to New Zealand shores with frequent Bledisloe Cup and Super Rugby battles and admits he has a soft spot for Kiwi playing fields.

“I’ve always wanted to maybe come over and play in New Zealand for a year or so. That’d be the dream, when I’ve finished,” Genia, 32, told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.

“One of my favourite memories of footy in general was the World Cup in New Zealand in 2011.

“I love New Zealand, I’ve always enjoyed going over there and we were based in Auckland for a large part of the World Cup, so that might be a thing for the future.”

Given his playing position, Genia is well-placed to make a call on the relative merits of Barrett and Mo’unga at first-five in a discussion that continues to grip the All Blacks scene as the opening test against Tonga looms.

“Richie’s been the best player in Super Rugby for the last three or four years. He’s head and shoulders above everybody, well and truly, but I don’t think he’s carried entirely all that form over to the test match arena,” Genia told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.

“You look at someone like Beauden Barrett, when he was in that role, when they said to him, ‘You’re running the team, you’ve got the keys to the team, you’re the No 10’, he was World Player of the Year two years in a row and nominated for a third.

“From a preferential perspective, I like Beauden at 10, having played against him at 10. I just think his ability as a ball runner at that next level, to be able to beat that first defender and use his speed, use his strengths, a lot of the time that gets him out of trouble when the team is in trouble.

“He’s also got exceptional skills as well. I think he’s more suited to 10 than he is 15. He has more of an impact and more of an influence on the game starting at 10 than he does at 15.

“For me, a player like him, having played against him, he was so hard to defend against at 10, because you’ve got the run threat, the kick threat, the pass threat, and it’s incredibly hard to defend against.”