After 137 Super Rugby appearances and 110 Tests for Australia, Will Genia will be back in GPS colours this weekend when the Gallopers host Souths.
Genia launched his senior Rugby career in Ashgrove, playing his Colts Rugby for the Gallopers after graduating from Brisbane Boys College, before embarking on a professional career which saw him play 114 games for the St.George Queensland Reds and win a Super Rugby title in 2011.
After gaining dispensation to play from his current Japanese club the Kintetsu Liners, Genia is relishing the chance to be back around the Queensland Premier Rugby scene.
“I feel really privileged to have the opportunity to play on Saturday and I can’t wait,” he said.
“It’s kind of a full circle, I’m back here towards the back end of my footy career now and I’m really excited to strap them on with my little brother (Nigel) as well.”
Genia has been training at Yoku Road since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of his season in Japan, with fellow former Reds and Wallabies Samu Kerevi and Quade Cooper also joining him at Jeeps.
The 32-year-old has thrown himself into life at the club, running extra sessions for the GPS scrumhalves and mentoring the next generation at Yoku Road.
“I’ve been training with the boys for the past six weeks, they’ve been so welcoming allowing me to play some actual footy as opposed to just doing straight line running and things like that,” Genia said.
“The talent here is incredible. The coach has done an exceptional job making sure that guys are fit and in good condition to play a good brand of Rugby and obviously doing a lot of work on their skills too.
“For me, coming down here I feel like I’m learning a lot as well, so it’s been hugely beneficial for me.”
Like much of the current Reds squad, Genia is a product of the Queensland pathway, and has seen firsthand the benefits of the program.
He represented Queensland U16s, schoolboys and U19s and played Colts Rugby for Jeeps before graduating to the senior ranks with the Reds in 2007.
“I’m a Queenslander through and through,” Genia said.
“When I look back, my first year out of school was playing club footy in Colts and to this day it’s still probably the most enjoyable Rugby I’ve played, and you have fun doing it in this environment.
“It allows you to express yourself, to try things on the field, which makes you a better player, the fact that you’re brave enough to go out there and try new things.
“For me it was so crucial and if you look at the Reds pathway now, a lot of those guys have graduated through the program and it’s just proof that it works.”
Genia will come off the bench on Saturday afternoon, with his younger brother Nigel occupying the starting number-nine jersey as the pair aim to combine on the field.
“It’s a massive positive that I’ve been able to spend some time training, not just with the boys but with my brother too and hopefully I get the opportunity to get out there on the weekend,” he said.
“Who knows, maybe they’ll put me on at fullback or something so I can share the field with him.”