Will Genia learned plenty from the toughest season of his Wallabies career as he battled with the disapppointment of the defeat to the British and Irish Lions.
The pain remains for Will Genia but the Wallabies halfback has come through a tumultuous 2013 primed to have Super Rugby rivals on red alert.
Genia admits last season was the toughest of his 55-Test career as he failed to overcome the emotionally-draining series loss to the British and Irish Lions.
After starring in the first two Tests for Australia, he fumbled the kick-off in the decider and then struggled as the Lions overpowered the Wallabies.
“That was huge,” the Queensland No.9 said of the impact of the 2-1 defeat. “The fact it still hurts just thinking about it probably says it was emotionally big and it was.”
On the back of a brilliant Super Rugby return from a knee reconstruction, Genia’s form and fitness waned and he was dropped to the bench by new Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie during the Rugby Championship.
But after clicking back into gear on the Wallabies’ successful European tour and producing a slick opening trial outing for the Reds on Saturday night, the influential Genia of old has made up lost ground and appears ready to roar.
“It was good to finish off the year on a high,” 26-year-old Genia said.
“To finish off being back in the team, finish off playing well and with (a winning tour).
“It was a big year, it was a tough year. It was one that I learnt a lot from, being in and out of the team, and one that I needed to go away and learn a lot about myself as a person.”
Genia, preparing for Friday’s final trial against the Melbourne Rebels, said he’s now far better equipped to deal with disappointment and riding out the highs and lows.
“This is my favourite time of the year,” he said.
“I love playing for Queensland, I love being back here at Ballymore and pulling on the Reds jersey.”
Genia will have familiar faces opposing him from the Rebels scrum-base at Ballymore on Friday night with old No.9 Test rival Luke Burgess back and throwing down the gauntlet and former Reds No.8 Scott Higginbotham captaining the visitors.
The halfback revealed part of the enigmatic Higginbotham’s reasoning for leaving the 2011 champions was to gain a leadership role.
“He’s obviously found that now with the Rebels and that’s spread throughout his game in terms of his confidence and the way he’s carried himself,” Genia said.
Centre Anthony Fainga’a will get his chance to keep his Reds No.13 jersey, while flanker Beau Robinson and hooker James Hanson will also make their first 2014 appearances in the match.