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Lions need to neutralise Genia

'Game changer' … Will Genia makes a break during the Test with Wales in June.

'Game changer' … Will Genia makes a break during the Test with Wales in June. Photo: Getty Images

CARDIFF: He may have sat out six Tests with a knee injury and still be some months off returning to full contact but Will Genia is the man most feared by the British and Irish Lions as they look ahead to their tour to Australia next year.

As Warren Gatland casts around for takers for the Lions No.9 jersey, having made it clear incumbent halfback Mike Phillips needed to rediscover form over the next few months, Genia is being touted by former Lions greats as the key threat in the Wallabies arsenal.

Former Wales halfback Robert Jones, a member of the victorious Lions squad that toured Australia in 1989, called Genia the best halfback in world rugby and said his opposite number in the Lions was a crucial selection. ''Mike Phillips is probably the incumbent Lions scrum half and if he gets the nod he'll play against probably the best scrum half in the world at the moment, [Genia], who's quick, alert and keeps momentum going in the way Australia have played,'' Jones said. ''[He] has a fantastic quick service, scores tries from 30 [metres]. You can't ask for anything more from a halfback.''

Phillips, a standout of the Lions' 2009 tour of South Africa, was the Welsh starting halfback in their clash with the Wallabies this weekend. But if the 30-year-old thought his time with Gatland gave him any sort of 'in' to the 2013 Lions side, the coach set him straight during the week.

''I don't actually think there's been any really dominating performances from a No.9 on a consistent basis,'' Gatland said, mentioning England halfbacks Ben Youngs and Danny Care, plus young Ireland No.9 Conor Murray. ''A good performance, yes, but not week in and week out.'' When asked if there were any players from the 2009 side that he considered available for selection, Gatland said he thought Phillips and Welsh centre Jamie Roberts did a ''good job'' but were under pressure to improve.

''From a Lions point of view, it's about some of the Welsh players putting their hands up in terms of selection,'' he said. ''There are maybe a couple of lines going through a couple of names and they need to re-establish themselves.''

In contrast Gatland called Genia a ''game changer'', while 1989 Lions winger Ieuan Evans said the Reds halfback would be a genuine threat. ''There were some wonderful Australian players who never had the chance to win against the Lions, it only comes around every 12 years,'' Evans said. ''So the likes of Will Genia will be desperate to get back on that field.''

Jones, who famously tussled with his Wallabies opposite Nick Farr-Jones throughout the three-Test series in 1989, said the pairing of Genia with Phillips would be explosive. ''Phillips is the opposite [to Genia] in as much as he's the most abrasive scrum half around, he's very committed,'' Jones said.

''He hasn't perhaps got the best technical scrum-half skills, but is a different player and has his own attributes that contribute to any game, so just watching the potential contest there between those two players is going to be fantastic.''

Gatland also said he would not hesitate appointing two captains for next year's tour, a senior tour captain and an in-game captain. ''You could pick potentially an experienced player. He might be tour captain, but might not be good enough to get selected for the Tests. But he could be really good for us as a tour captain,'' he said. ''Bear in mind that if form's good enough you get selected … But it's all about performance and form, and if that means leaving the captain out then I'm more than … prepared to do that.''

Twitter -@geerob

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Super Rugby 2015

Round 1
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Report Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
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BUL 17 vs STO 29 Report Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
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Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Report Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Report Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Report Stats
HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Report Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Report Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Report Stats
FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15 vs BRU 20 Report Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Report Stats
LIO 19 vs STO 22 Report Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Report Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT 20 vs BUL 39 Report Stats
STO 29 vs SHA 13 Report Stats
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Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 30 vs BLU 23 Report Stats
FOR 17 vs REB 21 Report Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
HIG 26 vs WAR 19 Report Stats
RED vs BRU 29 Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO 19 vs CHF 28 Report Stats
CHT 10 vs SHA 27 Report Stats
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Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG 13 vs HUR 20 Report Stats
REB 16 vs LIO 20 Report Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 57 vs CHT 14 Report Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 25 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
SHA 12 vs CHF 11 Report Stats
WAR 28 vs BRU 13 Report Stats
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Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 36 vs REB 12 Stats
RED 17 vs LIO 18 Report Stats
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs CHT 14:30WS
HIG vs STO 17:35FBS
WAR vs BLU 19:40AS
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
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BUL vs CRU 04:10Loftus Versfeld
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Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs STO 18:35WS
REB vs RED 20:40AAMI
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs BLU 18:35WS
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Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BRU 18:35EP
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
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Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs CHF 18:35AMI
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HIG vs BLU 18:35FBS
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Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF vs FOR 18:35WS
BRU vs HIG 20:40GIO Stadium
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Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG vs SHA 18:35FBS
BRU vs WAR 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
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HUR vs CRU 18:35WS
REB vs CHF 20:40AAMI
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Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs RED 18:35AMI
REB vs BLU 20:40AAMI
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs SHA 18:35WS
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Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
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Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF vs BUL 18:35Rotorua International Stadium
RED vs SHA 20:40SS
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Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HUR 18:35Trafalgar Park
BRU vs BUL 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
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HIG vs CHF 18:35Rugby Park
FOR vs RED 20:40nib Stadium
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Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR vs HIG 18:35McLean Park
FOR vs BRU 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB vs BUL 16:30AAMI
BLU vs CRU 18:35EP
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Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
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Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HIG 18:35EP
REB vs FOR 20:40AAMI
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BRU vs CRU 16:30GIO Stadium
CHF vs HUR 18:35Yarrow Stadium
WAR vs RED 20:40AS
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SHA vs STO 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
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Round 19
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
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Round 20
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
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Round 21
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
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Brumbies 6 4 2 0 73 20
Stormers 5 4 1 0 33 16
Chiefs 6 4 2 0 36 19
Sharks 6 3 3 0 5 15
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Highlanders 5 3 2 0 4 15
Bulls 5 3 2 0 12 14
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