Wallabies back Genia to be fit to face Ireland
Melbourne - Wallabies assistant coach Stephen Larkham is confident star scrumhalf Will Genia will be fit to face Ireland in their June Test series opener.
Genia strained the medial ligament in his knee in the Rebels' loss to the Crusaders, with the Melbourne-based franchise confirming he would miss their next three matches, but likely be in the mix for the first June Test in Brisbane on June 9.
Asked whether the national side was expecting to have him for the opener, Larkham was unequivocal.
"I’m 100 percent confident that he'll be right to go," he told the Australian Rugby Union's official website.
"Without putting a time frame, I think there's a chance he'll play some Super Rugby before he gets to Test season but we'll have to wait and see how that's progresses.
"Willy knows how to get right for matches and I'm 100 percent confident he'll be right for that first Test in June."
Any possible Genia absence would be a headache for the Wallabies, with the Rebels’ nine the standout scrumhalf in Australia.
His long-time back-up, Nick Phipps, has had a frustrating start to the year with injuries, only earning his first start of the season this weekend.
That limited game time didn’t worry Larkham though, with the assistant happy with the selection of scrum-halves available.
"He's quite an experienced player, he's constantly working on his game, there's no doubt about that,” he said.
"He's conscious of the things he needs to work on in his game.
"I'm comfortable with the role he's playing at the moment with the Waratahs and I'm sure over the next couple of weeks he'll get a bit more of an opportunity which will put him in good stead for the June Tests."
Outside of Phipps, Larkham pointed to Genia’s Melbourne understudy, Michael Ruru, as a contender for the Test squad.
New Zealand-born Ruru is eligible to play for the Wallabies, and was being floated as a possible development player on last year’s end-of-year tour after a standout National Rugby Championship campaign with the Perth Spirit.
"There's a number of young halfbacks coming through at the moment, so I think if you look for experience, you'd be looking at Nick Phipps as the stand-in guy there and Michael Ruru's probably the next oldest in terms of age, experience but the other two have a little bit of room around June are Jake Gordon and Joe Powell," said Larkham.