Rugby World Cup 2011

Genia: Cruden will be tested

2011-10-11 08:47
Aaron Cruden (AP)

Auckland - Wallabies scrumhalf Will Genia says his side will test New Zealand's new starting flyhalf Aaron Cruden in their Rugby World Cup semi-final this weekend.

Cruden has become the All Blacks' latest starter at No 10 following groin injuries to Dan Carter and his replacement Colin Slade. Sunday's match at Eden Park will be only his second Test start, and Genia said on Tuesday he will be one of Australia's targets.

"He's not that big a bloke," he said, "so we'll chuck a bit of traffic at him and see if we can wear him down."

Genia expects Cruden to cope, primarily because of the experience around him in scrumhalf Piri Weepu and midfielders Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith, all of whom play with him for the Wellington Hurricanes in Super 15.

"Cruden's still doing the job. He's an attacking sort of player, he likes to take the line on," Genia said. "The guys around him like Conrad and Nonu, they've got a good combination already. Weepu's inside him and he's stepped up. Still, if Nonu went down they'd struggle a bit, because of his ability to not only force the ball, but also play the ball as well.

"They can't replace Carter, but Cruden's form doesn't make (losing Carter) as bad."

Genia said the contest between Cruden and Australia counterpart Quade Cooper will be interesting.

Cooper was indecisive and lackluster in the 11-9 quarter-final win over South Africa last weekend, but Genia said he's yet to see his Queensland team-mate play two bad games in a row.

"He's someone who loves playing on the big stage, loves the pressure of having to perform," he said. "I reckon he'll come out and bounce back really positively and do real well.

"From an outsider's point of view you see the mistakes, but from the team point of view, he directs the boys, tells them where he wants the play to go. He does what you want from your 10 and does it effectively. He didn't have the best game (on Sunday) but he was still good."

Genia believes Cooper was unfazed by the criticism of his performance, and said he'd only just woken up before Genia turned out for the media at lunchtime.

"It doesn't affect him. If it does, you don't notice it," he said. "He still carries on the way he normally does. He's a pretty confident guy, so he'll always back himself."

Genia said the Wallabies couldn't afford to repeat their defensive effort against the Springboks and hope for the same outcome against the All Blacks.

"We've got to put ourselves in a position where we can play rather than looking to defend for the whole game," he said. "We pretty much won that game on sheer guts and character. But if we play like that against the All Blacks, they'll put us away. We've got to make sure we execute a lot better.

"We can take from it a lot of belief, which at this stage of the tournament is crucial."

Genia and Cooper weren't born when Australia last beat New Zealand at Eden Park in 1986. They came along two years later, but Genia said they were confident the could set a new precedent.

"One hundred percent confident. I don't know if I could be more confident," he said. "I don't want to sound arrogant, I'm not that sort of bloke. I really believe in the guys that we have in this group that we can do it. We back each other all the way and we showed on the weekend that we cannot only win through skill but also team spirit, wanting to do it for each other. For that fact alone I have every confidence going into this game."


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