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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

Genia ditches Force, re-signs with Reds



Wallabies playmaker Will Genia has made a stunning U-turn by deciding to re-sign with the Queensland Reds two days after the Super Rugby team announced he would join Western Force next season.

The Reds said in a statement on Monday Genia had signed that morning until the end of 2015, scuppering the Perth-based Force's bid to recruit the 24-year-old scrumhalf at the eleventh hour.

On Saturday, the Reds had announced that Genia was leaving the team at the end of the season to play for Force after not being able to provide a competitive enough offer.

Genia said he had told the Reds' title-winning coach Ewen McKenzie after Friday's win over the Auckland Blues that he was set to defect to the Force, but had a change of heart over the weekend.

"Ewen asked me after the game on Friday whether I was going to be staying with the Reds and I told him I was going to join the Western Force at the end of the season," he told reporters.

"But when I considered my options over the weekend I realised it really didn't sit well with me and my heart was in Queensland and that's where I want to play my rugby."

Genia added the caveat that the new Reds deal was subject to a "top-up" by the Australian Rugby Union (ARU).

The ARU has final sign-off on Super Rugby contracts, which are often linked to national contracts and include extra payments and incentives to encourage top players to remain at home rather than pursue bigger money deals overseas.

"The deal that I've signed here is subject to an ARU top-up as well, so that discussion is something that needs to take place and hopefully that works out because I want to stay," Genia told local reporters.

The ARU said they were yet to receive a contract from the Queensland Rugby Union and were unable to start negotiations with the player.

"We look forward to talking to Genia once those protocols have been met," an ARU spokesman said.

REDS REVIVAL

Genia scored the match-winning try in last year's final against the Canterbury Crusaders to seal the Reds' first title in the competition's professional era and has been a key player in the formerly struggling franchise's revival.

Local media reported Genia had been offered A$600 000 (approximately R4.8 million) a year to play with Force, well above the A$400 000 Queensland had tabled.

Force conceded they had lost their bid to bring Genia to Perth and expressed disappointment at the player's backflip.

"While we respect that Will has changed his mind, and had the right to do so, we are obviously disappointed following a verbal agreement a few days earlier and the promise of the paperwork to be signed and returned over the weekend following his arrival back from New Zealand," Force CEO Vern Reid said.

Despite the team reporting his departure, negotiations re-opened on Sunday. Genia said the Reds' initial offer had not changed.

"I stayed because I want to stay," he told reporters.

"I love the environment, I love the culture and I love where the club is heading and that's the reason I wanted to stay.

"The financial gain to move to Perth was quite significant but it's not about money. It's about where I'm happy and this is where I'd be happy.

"It was a scary thought to think I may not feel that way about playing for another club ... Singing the team song in the change room afterwards and thinking I would not have the opportunity next year was a scary thought."

The Super Rugby champions have won five out of their nine games so far this season and remain six points behind the Canberra-based ACT Brumbies in the Australian conference.

The conference winners automatically qualify for the southern hemisphere provincial competition's postseason.

Force have won only two games this season and are all but out of the playoff race.



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