The impact of Will Genia on his return to the starting lineup will be key for the Wallabies against Fiji at the Millennium Stadium on Wednesday, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Coach Michael Cheika took a gamble in his World Cup squad selection by picking just two scrumhalves, backing Genia to come good and the talented Nick Phipps to provide the necessary back-up.
Cheika suggested it was a gut feeling that swayed him to start Genia in their World Cup opener on Wednesday, believing his experience and ability to pose a threat around the rucks would benefit the Wallabies.
However, it remains to be seen just how quickly Genia can get back up to speed at No 9 after recently undergoing a knee operation. The Wallabies need the wily halfback to be at his best if they are to launch a real challenge on the World Cup stage, and from their perspective, the sooner he can get up and running the better.
Fiji are one of those dangerous sides who can’t be trusted, and England certainly didn’t have it all their own way against the unpredictable islanders during the opening match of the tournament.
Fiji outplayed England at the breakdown, but this is also an area where the Wallabies will be looking to their dual-fetcher combination of David Pocock and Michael Hooper to have the necessary impact.
The partnership worked wonders in the Wallabies' win over the All Blacks in Sydney in August, and coach Michael Cheika has largely stuck with the playing group that guided Australia to Rugby Championship success on that day.
And with Genia restored to his rightful place at No 9, they should be expected to kick off their World Cup campaign with a winning performance.
GENIA'S STATS THAT MATTER
60 – Tests caps
50 – Test starts
8 – Test tries scored
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Wallabies 16, Fiji 2, Draw 1
Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Dean Mumm, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Kurtley Beale.
Fiji – 15 Metuisela Talebula, 14 Waisea Nayacalevu, 13 Vereniki Goneva, 12 Gabiriele Lovobalavu, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Nikola Matawalu, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Akapusi Qera (c), 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu/Peceli Yato, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Tevita Cavubati, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Tuapati Talemaitoga, 1 Campese Ma'afu
Subs: 16 Viliame Veikoso, 17 Peni Ravai, 18 Isei Colati, 19 Nemia Soqeta, 20 Malakai Ravulo, 21 Nemia Kenatale, 22 Josh Matavesi, 23 Aseli Tikoirotuma
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Leighton Hodges (Wales)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England
Photo: Dan Mullan/Getty Images