Will Genia is relishing a positional battle worthy of his 100-match Super Rugby milestone – facing up against admired All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith.
It’s all about love and hate for Will Genia in his 100th Queensland game on Friday night.
The 55-Test halfback – man of the match in the Reds’ 2011 Super Rugby final victory and the Wallabies’ Tri-Nations triumph a month later – rates the milestone the proudest achievement of his stellar career.
“Most definitely,” Genia said. “I love the place; I love the state; I love the club; I love my teammates.
“And where we have come from … makes it mean so much more.”
But at the same time, Genia is fuelled to end Queensland’s dire six-match losing streak – their worst since finishing with the wooden spoon in his 2007 debut season – against the Highlanders on Friday at Suncorp Stadium.
“It’s quite tough, the period we’re going through at the moment, and I hate losing,” he said.
“I’m one of the most competitive people going around. I like to win everything I do and it really hurts when you lose, especially representing something you’re really proud of.”
Genia is relishing the prospect of a positional battle worthy of the milestone match, facing up against All Blacks No.9 Aaron Smith.
Smith has been at his creative and high-octane best for the sixth-placed Highlanders for Genia to label him the form halfback in Super Rugby and up with Fourie du Preez as best in the world.
“I like watching him play,” he said. “He’s world class and does the basics really well.
“He’s someone I admire and try to learn off as well.”
In just another blow to Queensland’s nightmare 2014, tireless flanker Ed Quirk has been ruled out for the season after rupturing knee ligaments at training on Monday.
Reds coach Richard Graham was set to recall Quirk from a rib injury on the bench but only has James Slipper (suspension) and Liam Gill (calf) back available.
Openside Gill was surprisingly put on the bench with Curtis Browning and Beau Robinson preferred after strong recent displays.
“Liam’s played only 50 minutes of club football and I thought it was important to reward Curtis and Beau,” Graham said.
Slipper’s return is timely with a full front-row – Saia Fainga’a (calf), Jono Owen (back) and Ben Daley (thumb) – on the injury list.
Winger Jamie-Jerry Taulagi has been axed with Rod Davies promoted and Ben Lucas slots into Quade Cooper’s No.10 jersey as expected.