Genia backs Elsom as Wallabies skipper - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Genia backs Elsom as Wallabies skipper

By Jim Morton and Justin Chadwick 10/05/2010 06:22:41 PM Comments (0)

Wallabies halfback Will Genia has played down his burgeoning captaincy credentials and strongly endorsed the leadership of incumbent Test skipper Rocky Elsom.

While Australia coach Robbie Deans refuses to guarantee Elsom will retain the job he's carried for five Tests, Genia on Monday labelled the Brumbies back-rower an "outstanding" leader.

The young Queensland captain also strongly backed another Brumbies star ahead of his Reds halves partner, Quade Cooper, by saying Matt Giteau deserved first crack at the Wallabies playmaking role.

Genia and five-eighth Cooper have been the form halves pairing in the Super 14 this season, prompting calls for them to wear the No.9 and 10 Australian jerseys in 2010.

But Genia, who pointed to the difference in pace and standard of Test rugby, appears happy with the current set-up under Deans, especially the leadership.

The 22-year-old admitted surprise that Deans saw him as a contender to replace Elsom.

"Definitely, I've only been (Reds) captain for 11 games now at this level and playing for the Wallabies is another level completely and I think Rocky Elsom has been doing an outstanding job and I really enjoy playing underneath him," Genia said in Brisbane while promoting ticket sales for the Test season.

"I've enjoyed the responsibilities and challenge of being captain of the side and haven't let it detract from my performance, it's probably more leading by example and playing my natural game."

Speaking in Perth on Monday, Deans pondered possible replacements and named Genia first in a group including Nathan Sharpe, David Pocock and Phil Waugh.

"The great thing is we have other players who are displaying leadership and who provide us with choice," he said of the captaincy.

"Who are those players? The most obvious ones are Will Genia, who has had captaincy experience at the Reds.

Genia was thrown into the Queensland role after James Horwill suffered a season-ending knee injury in round two, making him the youngest state captain since a 21-year-old Mark Loane in 1975.

Impressed by his ability to lead the rebuilt Reds, former Wallabies skipper Loane expects Genia to ascend to the national captaincy in time but also said Elsom deserved to remain.

"I think Rocky is doing a pretty good job at the moment but as a forward if you are going to accept anyone as a captain then it's a halfback so if not now, sometime in the future I would think," he said.

"It's a great place to lead a game, from halfback, they do a lot of talking and see what's happening."

Loane believed the no-guarantees approach to leadership was Deans's way of putting all players on edge to guard against complacency.

"There's no good reason to remove him but Rocky would also know the pressure is on him to perform," he said.

Deans certainly feels Elsom has been below par but is starting to hit form at the right time of the year going into the last round of the Super 14.

"He's warming to his work now, he's getting pretty excited at the business end," he said.

"That's good. It augurs well."

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