Will Genia will need to rediscover his former-glories if the Reds are to get anything out of their match with the Crusaders in Brisbane on Sunday.
The former Wallabies captain has had a torrid time behind a crumbling pack and in front of a rudderless backline. Even with his old mate Quade Cooper on his outside, he has failed to replicate the form shown on their run to the 2011 title.
Gone are the pressure-relieving box kicks or the quick darts around the fringes that exemplified his game in his pomp, only to be replaced with pass after pass. That he has the most passes of any player in this season's competition is an indication of just how one-dimensional his game has become. While his forwards have given him very little platform to work from, his error count this season has been too high. With McCaw and co snapping around the rucks this weekend, things aren't going to get any easier for this beleaguered Wallaby.
The last meeting between these two saw the Crusaders running up their biggest victory to date, a 38-9 win in Christchurch. One silver lining for the Reds is that they have won the last three meetings between the sides in Brisbane.
They have made six changes for this one, following a spate of injuries. Former Australian U20 captain Curtis Browning will make his run-on debut on the flank in place of the injured Eddie Quirk.The other changes in the forward pack are Ben Daley in for James Slipper, James Hanson for Saia Fainga'a and Beau Robinson for Liam Gill. There are two further changes in the backline, where Dom Shipperley replaces the injured Chris Feauai-Sautia on the wing and Jamie-Jerry Taulagi returns to the starting line-up.
The Saders have made five changes of their own. Corey Flynn gets a recall at hooker, while Luke Romano starts in the second row alongside Sam Whitelock. Richie McCaw returns to his favoured openside flank, with young Jordan Taufua coming in on the blindside. In the only backline change Rey Lee-Lo starts at outside centre after Kieron Fonotia aggravated his hamstring injury against the Brumbies.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Reds 6, Crusaders 14
In Brisbane: Reds 5, Crusaders 6
GENIA'S STATS THAT MATTER
13 – Number of knock-ons (Rank 10)
14 – Number of handling errors (Rank 11)
1 – Number of try assists (Rank 133)
Source: Vodacom Stats App
Reds – 15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Curtis Browning, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 James Hanson, 1 Ben Daley.
Subs: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Jono Owen, 19 Ed O'Donoghue, 20 Dave McDuling, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Ben Lucas, 23 Rod Davies.
Crusaders – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Ryan Crotty (c), 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 George Whitelock, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Nafi Tuitavake.
Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images