Genia, Quade set to re-sign with Reds
Will Genia of the Reds. Photo: Getty Images
BRISBANE: Wallabies linchpin Will Genia is set to re-sign with the Australian Rugby Union this week and is eying a shock playing return in Queensland's opening home blockbuster against NSW in February.
And his Reds and Wallabies halves partner, Quade Cooper, is expected to continue their highly-successful combination in 2013.
In news which will deeply hearten Australian and Queensland rugby fans, Reds chief executive Jim Carmichael today confidently declared Genia and Cooper would join forces again at Ballymore.
Clouds have hovered over the sidelined duo in the past fortnight as both had failed to re-sign with the ARU despite agreeing to new three-year Queensland deals mid-year.
While Cooper is currently at the centre of a code of conduct investigation following his recent criticism of the Wallabies and the code, Genia's future is set to be finalised in the coming days.
Carmichael said the 41-Test halfback, currently in rehabilitation mode following a knee reconstruction last month, was now looking forward to a big 2013 for Australia and the Reds - four days after Genia admitted he was on the open market.
The news is a major boost for the Wallabies with the British and Irish Lions touring next year.
The pair has been Australia's most potent playmaking duo of the past three years - leading the Reds to the Super Rugby title and Wallabies to the Tri Nations trophy in 2011.
"I don't think there was ever any time where Will didn't want to be in Australia because otherwise he wouldn't have re-signed with the Reds," Carmichael told AAP.
"He's got a little bit of a spring in his one step and he's even champing at the bit about coming back for our first home game against the Waratahs (on February 23).
"If anyone can come back from that injury faster than normal it's Will."
"He tells me he's a little bit ahead of schedule and he's hoping."
Carmichael had little doubt Cooper would also be in Australian rugby despite former Wallabies coach John Connolly calling for the controversial five-eighth to be banned for a year for claims of a toxic culture and criticism of the Wallabies style of play.
The Reds boss said Cooper's desire to continue to play for Australia remained high.
Reports in The Australian newspaper suggest the 38-Test playmaker will be slugged with a fine for his comments which will reduce the size of a new ARU deal.
A code of conduct hearing is expected within the next fortnight after Cooper last week met with ARU integrity officer Phil Thompson.
"I'm very confident that the ARU are dealing with that in a very professional, even-handed and consistent way," Carmichael said.
"I'm certainly very confident he won't be lost to the Reds.
"I can't pre-empt (the code of conduct hearing) but I would be hopeful that it would be dealt with in a way that would allow Quade to represent his country in the future."