Being torn by Force gave Genia strength
WALLABIES halfback Will Genia has credited his Australian Super Rugby Player of the Year award to ignoring a lucrative offer from the Force and remaining at the Reds.
Midway through the Super Rugby season, Genia had decided to move to the Force next season, but overnight had a change of mind, opting to stick with the Reds. While this U-turn infuriated the Force, it had the desired effect of reviving Genia, who was appreciably out of form in the opening rounds of this year's tournament.
However, an impressive second half to the competition, enabled him to poll 18 votes, one ahead of teammate Scott Higginbotham, Brumbies five-eighth Christian Lealiifano and Force captain David Pocock, and win the award for the second straight year.
The player votes were awarded each week by a pool of rugby writers and commentators.
Genia, who polled three votes in the final home and away match against the Waratahs to secure the trophy, said personal contentment was important in his form revival. Deciding to re-sign with the Reds ''made a massive difference''.
''Looking back at that time, it was very stressful and it took my concentration away from playing well for Queensland. I was worrying about other things,'' Genia said when receiving the award.
''Once I had that stability and knew where I was going to be, I could concentrate on performing, and doing my job for the team. It was no coincidence that I then started to be a bit more consistent with my performances.''
Genia argued he did not deserve the award, instead believing that Higginbotham should have won it. ''I really do think Scott was exceptional for us this season, because he was so consistent,'' Genia said.
Genia described Higginbotham's departure for the Rebels next season as being ''a huge loss'' for the Queensland side. ''He's really established himself as a world-class player, not just for the Reds but for the Wallabies as well,'' Genia said.
While the Reds had to make do without Quade Cooper for parts of the season due to injury or suspension, Genia believed the No.10's absence helped him in unexpected ways.
''I quite enjoyed the challenge of not having Quade there on a regular basis, as I had to take on a little more responsibility. As a player I've become better for it, and grown. I also had to jump into No.10 as well, and I quite enjoyed that, because you see the game from a different perspective. I think that has helped me mature as a player,'' Genia said.
It was the ultimate tireless effort for Genia, as this season he played every minute of every game for the Reds, as well as the four Wallabies Test matches so far.
How did he feel now?
''Pretty busted up and sore.''
In other awards, Brumbies winger Joseph Tomane was named Rookie of the Year, Ewen McKenzie won the Coach of the Year award, and the Team of the Year went to the Reds.
It is the fifth time McKenzie has won the coach award.
The best try was given to Reds winger Dom Shipperley against the Rebels, while Steve Walsh was named Referee of the Year.