Big Mac warns Genia of Super trouble
Powerhouse: Hugh McMeniman in action against the Southern Kings. Photo: Getty Images
Former Queensland Reds powerhouse Hugh McMeniman is braced for his own rib-rattling reunion on Saturday night but he's warned Wallabies halfback Will Genia to be ready for a bigger assault at Suncorp Stadium.
Western Force recruit and 21-Test Wallaby McMeniman returns to the ground where he was a crowd favourite as a bone-crunching lock/No.6 before leaving for Japan, and knows what's coming in the Super Rugby derby.
Queensland forwards and close mates Greg Holmes and Jake Schatz have already put him on red alert after he spent the pre-season with the Force.
"They gave me a bit of niggle about not being here the last few years so I think they will definitely welcome me back," McMeniman said on Thursday.
If McMeniman had his wish, the 29-year-old would have returned to Brisbane as a Reds player, but Queensland had a full complement of locks when his agent sounded out coaching boss Ewen McKenzie last August.
Ironically, David McDuling, James Horwill and Radike Samo all suffered pre-season injuries and now he'll oppose old second-row partner Ed O'Donoghue, who was a fifth-choice back-up training with the Reds College at the time.
However, McMeniman is more than happy to be at the Force under Michael Foley, his old Wallabies forwards coach, as he strives to make it back to the international arena against the British and Irish Lions.
Impressing against his old team, who are coming off three straight wins without captain Horwill (ankle) or vice-captain Genia (knee), would do wonders for his chances.
Still a Reds fan, McMeniman rightly rates them an even more dangerous prospect with Genia wearing the No.9 jersey and promised he'd be a prime focus for the Force pack.
"That's a good thing for them but he's going to be targeted more than he usually is so hopefully his knee is right," he said.
"He's an amazing little player and he makes and creates space for everyone on the team and he and Quadey (Cooper) together are the perfect match."
It was a host of injuries that ultimately led to McMeniman taking up a lucrative three-year deal with Japanese club Kubota in late 2009, unlucky timing to say the least.
McKenzie took over from Phil Mooney, sacked following a second-last finish, and instantly began the Reds revival.
But rather than be jealous or full of regret, McMeniman says he was overjoyed by Queensland's 2011 Super Rugby triumph.
"I was really stoked," he said. "It was an unbelievable achievement.
"It's harder to win a Super Rugby championship than win a World Cup. It was amazing what they did.
"Big wraps for Queensland Rugby. They stick with their players and produce their own players and it's a very good place to play rugby."