Will Genia says it will be a ‘privilege’ to play against fellow Wallaby George Smith this weekend in the big Super Rugby clash in Brisbane.
Genia is all set to be one of the stars of this summer’s Lions series, while Smith could yet make a surprise return to the Green and Gold four years after he last tasted international action.
Scrum-half Genia has been in sensational form for the Reds since making his comeback from knee surgery last month but openside flanker Smith is one of the few men who can claim to be playing equally well following his loan move to the Brumbies from Japanese outfit Suntory Sungoliath.
The pair will face each other in the Super XV this Saturday when Australia’s highest-ranked sides go head-to-head at the Suncorp Stadium and Genia’s public praise of the 110 Test veteran suggests he would also the welcome the chance to play alongside Smith when the Lions arrive at the same venue on June 22.
"I feel privileged playing against him. I hold him in that high regard," said Genia, who knows he will be in for a rough ride in Brisbane.
"Coming up against one of the better players of all time would be really exciting for him and for us as a group.
"I was thinking about that the other day – he's always there. I was lucky to play with him in 2009 in Tests. Everywhere I turned he was always there – in cover (defence), at the breakdowns.
"You know he is going to be all over the park getting stuck into work. You just have to be aware that he will be breathing down your throat the whole game.
"You have to play away from him. Well, maybe you can't get away from him but you've got to try."
Genia missed the second round encounter between the sides in Canberra in February but will start Saturday’s re-match with Quade Cooper at his side.
Cooper was left out of last weekend’s Wallaby training camp in Sydney but Genia has since spoken of his desire to continue playing alongside his clubmate at Test level, citing their mutual understanding and trust in each other as reasons for them to link up again on the big stage.
The 24-year-old today reiterated those claims, stating that his partnership with the bad boy of Australian rugby comes naturally.
"It's something that has been instinctive," added Genia. "We have every confidence in each other's ability and trust each other in the way we play the game and we always back each other.
"We always support each other – whether it's the right decision or the wrong decision. That just adds to that instinctive nature in the way we play."