Rugby

WILL GENIA: I was disappointed by Rennie’s sacking but Eddie’s a winner – and this is why he is the right choice

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I can say with absolute certainty that I would never have become the player I did if I didn’t have Eddie Jones as my first head coach. I can say that with absolute certainty.

That’s why I have so much respect for Eddie because, in that one year, he did so much for me.

From such a young age, he taught me first and foremost how to train like a professional. Then he taught me the level of standard to which you’ve got to continuously abide by and to hold yourself accountable to that.

But he also taught me so much about the game, how to understand the game; he teaches you how to sort of back yourself and understand what your strengths are, so I only have positive things to say about Eddie.

I was 18 when I started my first pre-season with the Reds at the end of ‘06.  

WILL GENIA: I was disappointed by Rennie’s sacking but Eddie’s a winner – and this is why he is the right choice

Will Genia (L) says he would not have become the player he turned out to be if it was not for Eddie Jones’ hard lessons in his first season at the Queensland Reds. Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images

What I remember was that he was very big on individual skills and extras.

You obviously train 2-3 times a day, but you always had scheduled within your program that you’d have to be out there at certain points doing individual skills.

He would always be out there with every single player in all positions, whether that was hookers practicing their throwing, jumpers practicing their jumps, 10s practicing their kicking, and I remember as a halfback he would just come there and just stand there right beside you and watch you.

You’d be feeling the pressure of him standing there, but then he would also give you tips and try to help you, and that’s the one thing I’ll remember is just how big he was on individual improvement and that constant search for wanting to be better.

One day, I was out near field two at Ballymore doing extras, and his office was up the top of a building, he opened the window and was yelling out things to me like ‘follow through with your hands’ or ‘keep your chest over the ball’ from 100m away and the third floor of the building.

Will Genia says his game was improved by Eddie Jones’ tough school at the Reds in 2006-07. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

I’m sure Quade Cooper would say the exact same thing. The ability to instill a level of work ethic and desire to want to continue to grow and get better, teach you good habits around continuing to grow your game, understand your game, and I know that they are things that he’s going to bring to this particular crop of players.

I was shocked when Dave Rennie was sacked. Like incredibly shocked.

I’m disappointed because I really enjoyed what Dave was doing. I love the way he sees the game and wants to play the game.

But we didn’t have the ability to consistently execute the style of play because at times our skills and decision-making were lacking.

If you watch the way they want to play, it relies on a lot of detail but then within that detail, it relies on making the right decisions to get the ball to the right space based on where numbers are. Trust me, it sounds simple as hell, but at times when you’re on the field it can be quite difficult.

We’ve got a sprinkling of world-class players and guys who have very high rugby IQ, but I think we’re probably still in a process where we’re still learning – and that probably is what counted against Dave, the fact that guys are still learning on the run.

We live very much in a results-driven business.

Dave and Eddie coaching together would never have worked. It didn’t work in 2019.

Even as players, you just felt uneasy because you weren’t sure who was in charge as a coach, and I’m sure Michael Cheika would say the same thing. You just constantly have someone looking over your back and you don’t have control, complete control, over the team to be able to do the things that you want to do.

It didn’t work in 2019. I don’t think it would work now.

It would just be exactly the same as 2019. It would be: who is running the ship? Whose message is more important? Who are we actually supposed to be listening to? Players feel that and it doesn’t create a healthy environment.

While I’m disappointed Dave is no longer coaching the Wallabies, I understand why Rugby Australia did it because they didn’t want to lose out on Eddie.

The fact that he became available and was ready to coach here and now, I understand that they didn’t want to lose that opportunity because he’s one of the world’s best coaches, if not the world’s best coach.

He’s a proud Australian, he understands the way that the game has been played over a huge number of years in the country.

He’s passionate about rugby in Australia and the Wallabies, so I completely understand it.

Will Genia believes Eddie Jones plays a winning game of rugby and coaches with an edge. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

Eddie had a huge amount of success coaching against the Wallabies.

My international career ended in Japan when England knocked us out of the World Cup quarter-finals.

I think what makes Eddie so good is that he has an edge about him.

So many teams that he coaches, he instills that edge about them. England had that. Whether it was in and around the physical battle.

The other thing about Eddie is that he plays ‘winning rugby’, he likes the trends of the game, he understands what way you need to play to be successful against certain oppositions, he’s very, very smart like that. That’s why he was able to transform England.

He has high levels of expectations from players around their fitness levels, their strength, their skill development, their ability, and then just their work-rate and work-ethic in and around all those spaces, learning and understanding the game. That brings it all together.

But he has his teams play with an edge and he plays winning rugby – that’s why he’s been so successful at Rugby World Cups.

It sometimes might not be the most entertaining footy, but it’s always about winning and that’s what he’s best at.

People talk about his struggles recently with England, but I don’t think it should get taken into consideration because it’s not the situation that he’s going to be in at the Wallabies.

Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones’ tenure with England ended after seven years of highs and lows, including a World Cup final defeat in 2019.  Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

You’ve got to look at what he’s done to teams when he’s first got there. That’s what counts the most because he’s only just come in now, in a World Cup year.

Towards the back end of his tenure with England because he had been there so long, and I can’t speak on any personal experience, you’ve got the same players in the same environment, you’re probably looking for ways to rejuvenate and freshen things up.

That might be with the playing style, that might be with your staff, that might be with the players themselves, that might be just the way that you do things in the environment, and sometimes, within that, you’re going to have teething problems where you’re going to lose games in order to get to where you want to ultimately get to.

Having said that, I think it’s more relevant to see what he’s done when he immediately got into a new environment, and he’s only ever had success in that space. That’s why I think he’s going to be a really positive appointment.

As for my old mate Quade, I can’t see why he won’t be the No.10 leading into the World Cup.

Quade Cooper remains the favourite to wear the No.10 jersey, according to Will Genia. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

I mean, Quade’s been the best 10 in the country for the last couple of years. He’s obviously been unfortunate with injuries, but we saw when he came back the quality and level of play that he was performing at.

I know Eddie’s always been a big fan, so if you’re basing it purely on performance, I can’t see why he wouldn’t fit into his plans.

If you look back at the way Eddie coaches, he likes having experienced players in key positions whether they might be starting or might be on the bench, or just within the squad, because I think he understands the value of having experience in senior players.

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