23 Aug 2015

Genia embarrassed by selection

8:59 am on 23 August 2015

The Australia halfback Will Genia said he felt "embarrassed" to be picked in the Wallabies' World Cup squad ahead of Nic White.

Australia's Will Genia at the 2011Rugby World Cup.

Australia's Will Genia at the 2011Rugby World Cup. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Genia played only half a game this season before suffering a knee injury against South Africa last month.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has selected only two specialist halfbacks, with the New South Wales Waratahs' Nick Phipps retained despite a poor game in the rare win over the All Blacks in Sydney.

The ACT Brumbies halfback White was the unlikely hero in the Wallabies' win, booting a long-range penalty and scoring the winning try off the bench to help seal victory in the abridged Rugby Championship.

White started against the All Blacks at Eden Park last week but came crashing back to earth as the Wallabies were belted 41-13.

Moments after the 31-man squad was unveiled in Sydney on Friday, Genia texted White to pass on his commiserations.

"I said: 'Look mate, I feel a bit embarrassed because I haven't played much footy and you played really well with your match-winning cameo against the All Blacks off the bench,'" Genia told reporters.

"I said to him: 'I promise you I'll do my best to make you proud.' I think he appreciated it. He sent me a message back."

A member of Australia's 2011 World Cup squad, the Papua New Guinea-born 27-year-old has not played his best rugby over the last few years due to a succession of knee injuries, but is a proven match-winner when fit.

He may be pivotal to the Wallabies' hopes of breaking out of the 'pool of death' which includes Wales, England and Fiji.

"I'm ready to play now," he said. "I'm back to full fitness and I'm really looking forward to getting another opportunity to get out there and just play some rugby. It's been a while.

"I guess I'm fortunate enough that I've played for the Wallabies for a number of years now and in the last World Cup, so I don't think there's pressure in that sense.

"The only pressure I feel is the pressure I put on myself to perform. I don't want to let my team mates down, let Australia down.

Wallabies coach Cheika admits he's rolling the dice by taking only two specialist halfbacks.

The utility back Matt Giteau can play halfback in an emergency.