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Will Genia returns as Reds captain
March 12, 2013

Will Genia will hit the ground running in his Super Rugby comeback from a knee reconstruction on Saturday night, taking up the Queensland Reds captaincy as he starts against Western Force at Suncorp Stadium.

Genia is returning a week earlier than first planned, but he will play only the first half against the Force.

"Hopefully from then on I will be playing the full 80," he said in Brisbane on Tuesday. "I said they would have to handcuff me at half-time because I will want to get back out there. But I have to be smart, build up the endurance. It would be wise just to keep it to 40 minutes."

Genia ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against South Africa in Perth last September, but he has found positives in his long layoff. "I know I have done the hard work in getting my body right. It has actually been fortunate in a way because it has allowed me to have a full pre-season. I am refreshed after being out of the game for so long. I am happy about my fitness and my head space."

Nick Frisby is expected to take over the No. 9 jersey in the second half after his impressive hand in the Reds' 23-13 win over Melbourne Rebels in round four.

Genia's return will boost the spirits of Robbie Deans. The Wallabies coach will be hoping desperately that Genia will be fit to face the first British & Irish Lions in the first Test on June 22, after losing star flanker David Pocock to an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the Brumbies' win over New South Wales Waratahs on Saturday night. Pocock will be sidelined until at least September, ruling him out of the Lions series and potentially the Wallabies' entire domestic campaign.

Genia's leadership at the Reds will be needed more than ever after Digby Ioane was suspended after a weekend incident in a Melbourne hotel. "He understands what he did was out of line, especially as a senior player," Genia said. "That's the feeling amongst the group."

It is an interesting match for Genia to make his comeback, barely 12 months after he completed a stunning backflip by reneging on a lucrative Force deal and re-signing with the Reds on less money.

In his first game against the Force since that contract saga, Genia has not ruled out the Perth side reminding him in no uncertain times about his change of heart. "If they do, they do. I don't really care," he said. "I'm where I'm happy. And that's all that matters to me."

A fortnight after Genia's sudden change of heart last April, Richard Graham added to the Perth franchise's pain when he announced that he would walk away from the Force head coaching role and link with the Reds coaching staff in 2013. Like Genia, Graham takes on the Force for the first time in Reds colours.

"I am a competitive person," Graham said. "Any time you come against someone you have been involved in you want to win. I made a decision for my own reasons and I am happy with where I am at at the moment."

Graham said that he could not provide much inside information on his former side, now coached by Michael Foley. "They have made a few changes. I don't keep in contact with any of the players or staff - what I see is what I will go into the game with."

© Sportal and AAP
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