Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) chief executive Jim Carmichael has lashed out at French Top 14 side Stade Francais after confirming Will Genia will join Australian rugby’s overseas exodus.
Genia had long been linked to a move abroad but Carmichael said comments from Stade Francais president Thomas Savare to a French radio station forced the official announcement to be brought forward – against the wishes of the player and the Reds.
“Although Will and I confirmed this decision some time ago, he had made it clear to us that he didn’t want anything to disrupt his final season with the Reds and his teammates,” Carmichael said.
“As a consequence, the QRU is extremely disappointed that the comments made in France overnight have denied a player of Will’s standing, in Super Rugby and internationally, the opportunity to inform his teammates, supporters and the admirers he has throughout Australian Rugby, in the appropriate fashion as planned.”
Genia will link up with the French outfit at the end of the Rugby World Cup in October, becoming the latest in a long line of Wallabies stars to leave Australia next year.
The 27-year-old, after spending his entire Super Rugby career with the Reds, said it was a decision he had agonised over, but one he arrived at following the birth of his first child.
“Having our first baby, Olivia, has changed my perspective and (my wife) Vanessa and I decided we wanted to experience life in a different part of the world,” he said.
“I’m thankful for the opportunities the Reds and the broader game of rugby have given me but, at this stage of my career, I decided that it was the right time to make the move.
“I’ve loved my time in Queensland. I love this state and this team and playing at Suncorp Stadium in the Reds’ jersey are some of my fondest memories in the game.”
Carmichael said the QRU was saddened to lose Genia, but said he had the organisation’s complete understanding and support.
“We only wish the very best for him and he goes with our gratitude and respect as he moves on to the next stage of his life, both professionally and personally,” he said.
Genia’s departure opens the door for reserve half Nick Frisby to become Queensland’s first-choice No.9 in 2015.