This weekend, Will Genia will become just the tenth player to represent Australia in 100 Test matches when the Wallabies play England at Twickenham.
Genia made his Wallaby debut in 2009 against New Zealand in Auckland, a narrow 22-16 victory where he came off the bench to replace Luke Burgess.
Over the next ten seasons, Genia has become one of the first Wallabies selected whenever available, a genuine world-class player who has helped shape the need for the modern scrumhalf to be equally adept with ball in hand as they are when passing or kicking.
A 2011 Super Rugby winner with the Queensland Reds, and now chasing number two at the Melbourne Rebels, words can't do justice in explaining the impact the 30-year-old, who was born in Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea), has had on Australian Rugby.
That being said, we caught up with his young Rebels teammate Harrison Goddard, who has been mentored by Will in Melbourne. 20-year-old Goddard has followed in Genia's footsteps by representing his country at both Australian Schoolboys and Australia U20's level, and he will look to emulate his acheivements as he strives to one day represent the Wallabies.
Interview with Harrison Goddard:
Pete Fairbairn (PF): Godzy, talk me through your memories of watching Will playing for the Reds and Wallabies while you were growing up.
Harrison Goddard (HG): He was definitely my first idol. I remember playing for Eastwood at the State Championships one year, I think it was Under 13’s, and the Wallabies were hosting the British & Irish Lions.
It really inspired me how he played as a running halfback, and I always loved watching him. When the Rebels signed him, I didn’t feel any negativity or jealousy; I knew it was an awesome opportunity for me to gain some better skills. He’s been a great role model for me, and he helps me with so much on and off field stuff, and to see him reach 100 Wallaby caps inspires me to push forward and to keep learning from him.
PF: What was it like coming face to face with him on when he turned up for his first day at the Rebels?
HG: I was actually a bit nervous, to be honest. He is very humble, and he is very easy going and he came up and introduced himself to me immediately. Straight after our first training session together, he took me for 10 or 15 minutes of passing extras, and that shows his character in that he picked a nineteen-year-old kid to help as I was embarking upon my first pre-season.
PF: What is Will like, in terms of how he prepares and recovers, in order to be as successful as he has been?
HG: He loves working hard, and is always doing extra things after training sessions, whether it is passing or kicking. 10-12 years of Super Rugby has taught him what to do with his body, and he is very good at looking after himself. His dedication shines through, he is very competitive, and he always wants to be the best. We both enjoying pushing one another and I think it brings out the best in both of us.
PF: How important was his leadership as he came into a squad with big groups of Rebels incumbents, and former Western Force players?
HG: The calibre of the squad meant that there were a lot of experienced leaders there, and Will was one of the key voices who stepped up after training or games and spoke so wisely. He is somebody you always listen to if he calls you into the circle, and he has such a great ability to calm people down and assess situations.
PF: What separates him from other scrumhalves?
HG: It’s his vision; he knows where he wants to get to on the field and plays two phases ahead of where he is. When I am watching him, I look to what he does with his feet at the ruck and how he goes about where he wants the ball to be. The way he directs the team around is world class.
I’d say that Will, Connor Murray (Ireland) and Aaron Smith (New Zealand) are the three standouts on the world stage. They all have different types of games, and Will’s still playing to an outstanding level every week even though he’s been playing for so long. He’s one of the top three Wallabies every Test match, in my opinion. With his class and his dedication, you could definitely pick him in your World XV.
Will is definitely one of the greatest backs to have played for the Wallabies. I saw clips of George Gregan when I was younger, and I think Will has adapted off what he was able to do and then put his own spin on it, and I look at guys like him and Greges and it inspires me to follow the same pathway.
PF: What is your message to him ahead of his 100th Test?
HG: Congratulations mate on what you’ve done for Australian Rugby, yourself and your family. Go out there and give it to the Poms, you should be really proud!
On behalf of all of Australia's Rugby players, congratulations Will on a wonderful achievement, and here's to many more!