The Wallabies are backing Will Genia’s battered body and big-match temperament to pass a Bledisloe Cup acid test on Saturday night.
Picked to start his first match since January, Genia has convinced coach Michael Cheika he was the halfback to turn to – not Nick Phipps, who will come off the bench.
“He just looks sharp,” Cheika said ahead of the Wallabies’ first meeting with the All Blacks since losing the World Cup final last October at Twickenham.
“Nick Phipps has played quite well this year so it’s been tough.
“At training, he (Genia) has looked really sharp and he’s worked really hard from a fitness point of view since he’s come back.
“Of course nothing simulates the game like the game itself, but he’s got plenty of experience to know how to manage himself in a game and when to take advantage of situations when they’re there.
“Experience in the halves is very, very important and his experience will serve us well.”
Genia has no doubts his dodgy knee can stand up to whatever the All Blacks can throw at him at ANZ Stadium.
“The body’s ready. I’ve been doing a lot of work,” he said.
“So physically and mentally I feel good and it’s just all about getting out there and executing.
“I’m really looking forward to playing some rugby because it’s been a long time and I’m very fortunate that I’m coming back in to play for the Wallabies.
“I’ll be doing everything I can to contribute in a positive way to the team’s outcome.”
The France-based veteran admits he thought the World Cup final – especially if the Wallabies had won – would have signalled the end of his 66-Test career.
“But I had a good conversation with ‘Cheik’ at the start of the year and that fire definitely still burns,” he said.
“It’s the pinnacle of the game when you play rugby, to represent your country.
“(But) when I signed to go overseas to Stade Francais was before all the rules had changed – the 60-cap rule.
“I thought if I was going to be picked in the World Cup (squad), that would be it.
“So obviously your mindset changes with the new rules and regulations and, yeah, it does feel a bit like unfinished business.”