Major backing for Conor Murray-Finn Russell Lions partnership
"For me, it depends on who you play at 10."
Will Genia is a huge fan of Ben Youngs [a HUGE FAN] but he is not averse to Conor Murray starting in a strong Lions XV to mix it up with South Africa.
The legendary Wallabies, who is currently plying his club rugby trade in Japan, was a guest on House of Rugby this week and waxed lyrical on Youngs and France scrumhalf Antoine Dupont. Alex Goode, meanwhile, flew the Lions flag for Murray.
"To me, Aaron Smith is the best," says Genia, "I was actually chatting to him about scrum-halves, and we both agree that Fourie du Preez is the G.O.A.T. To me, he's the best ever I've seen.
"Then after him, I would pick Smith and Ben Youngs. Because, to me, they're my type of players. When I think about those three guys, I see them as finesse players - really good skills, really attacking half-backs that like to get out there and sit defenders down, play people into space and control the game with kicking, running and passing. i like that style of play, so it's probably why I gravitate a little more to those three."
Genia featured for the Wallabies against the Lions in the 2013 Test Series, and came up against both Ben Youngs and Conor Murray. Asked to select what man he would give the No.9 jersey to, the Aussie responds:
"For me, it depends on who you play at 10. I would pick Finn Russell at 10.
"When I think about the Lions team, people talk a lot about the physicality the Springboks will bring, but the Lions will bring just as much physicality, if not more. All the northern hemisphere teams are very much known for their physical presence and their intensity.
"To the same extent, I would pick Finn Russell so you'd have that little bit more creativity, because I think if you get stuck in that slow, percentage rugby, you play into their hands. The Springboks like playing that way, and it suits them perfectly.
"So if I'm picking Finn Russell at 10, which I would, I'd probably pick Ben Youngs at 9 because he gives you that control and presence of someone that as played 100 Tests.
"Either him or Conor Murray. So then you have someone giving you that control, and giving that bit more freedom to Finn Russell at 10."
For Goode, though, his scrumhalf pick to start against the Springboks is Murray.
"I think, for me, Conor Murray at 9," says Goode.
"That's nothing against Ben, but Conor Murray has the box-kicking and physicality around the breakdown.
"I know that we talked about how we don't have to meet them physically, but I thought he was just outstanding against the All Blacks, when the Lions played there. I think he could work with Finn Russell, really, really well, and certainly give South Africa something to think about. And also that control."
It is not the first time Goode has raved about Murray. Earlier this year, when the Munster scrumhalf made a Team of the Decade selection, the England fullback said, "He's a brilliant, brilliant player, and Ireland's rise over the last 10 years has had a lot to do with him."
While Murray is being highly touted as a definite in Warren Gatland's Lions squad, Youngs is by no means guaranteed making his third squad. He toured in 2013 and made the 2017 squad but pulled out when his sister-in-law announced she was battling cancer.