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Wallabies' real test of culture is still to come, says Genia

That was then ... Will Genia and Quade Cooper after the Wallabies' loss to Ireland in the Rugby World Cup last year. Genia said the side is staying united.

That was then ... Will Genia and Quade Cooper after the Wallabies' loss to Ireland in the Rugby World Cup last year. Genia said the side is staying united. Photo: Getty Images

ARE the Wallabies a team divided or is Quade Cooper's claim of a toxic environment grossly overblown?

The truth, according to Will Genia, will be there for all to see on the pitch in Pretoria in three days.

While declining to talk directly about Cooper's comments, the injured Australian halfback mounted a passionate defence of his teammates' attitudes and said the best test of the Wallabies' culture was playing ''one of the biggest Test matches the group will face this year''.

''If you go over there and you play against South Africa in Pretoria and you're not all on the same page, you're not all buying into it, they'll get smashed to be honest,'' Genia said.

''But regardless of everything that happens, the boys do understand the privilege that they have in representing their country, we all do, and … they don't take that for granted.''

Genia's words, spoken from his couch in Brisbane where the one-time Wallabies captain is recovering from surgery to rebuild a ruptured knee ligament, are timely considering the turmoil sparked by Cooper's outbursts.

In the absence of an official response from Australian rugby administrators, message boards, fan forums, social media and website comments have lit up with, simultaneously, support and criticism for Cooper, criticism of coach Robbie Deans and general despair that Australian rugby has sunk to a public, albeit one-sided, slanging match.

Genia said he could only go by reports coming back from South Africa that things were running smoothly in camp, but that the trip away was the best thing for the team.

''They seem very focused, they seem like they're really enjoying their time over there and I think with everything that's happening it's obviously a good time for the boys to get away … you stick tight as a group and seem that little bit more focused and together,'' he said, quickly adding that the Wallabies jersey was as sacred a piece of fabric as it ever was.

''I would give the world to be playing right now, I would give the world to be back in that jersey … but from being in the group, no one takes it for granted.''

''Regardless of what's being said, whatever is being written, whatever anyone thinks, or anyone's opinion, we never take it for granted, it means the world to all of us.

''We may play poorly or not do as well as we want but we have a lot of pride in the jersey and in doing well for our country.''

Locking down a rogue impulse to kick away possession, plus pinpoint accuracy under the high ball, would give the Wallabies the chance they needed to start well against the Boks, the Reds vice-captain said.

He defended the side's attack - another criticism of Cooper's - which has struggled to find rhythm as the team rotated through three different playmakers.

''There hasn't been much stability in terms of combinations … having [Pat McCabe] come back gives us a lot more punch in our midfield and direct, hard running, which gets us over the advantage line,'' Genia said.

''If you take out the kick-happy approach we used against Argentina and give ourselves a chance I think the attack will start to work to be honest.''

Two weeks into a six- to nine-month rehabilitation process, Genia said it had been very difficult to watch from home as the team pulled off their come-from-behind victory against the Pumas.

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Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
 
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