Will Genia holding firm with his opinion on best No.9 in world rugby
"I genuinely think he still plays at that high level."
Will Genia, like the rest of us, has witnessed a new generation of scrum-halves stepping it up at Test level. Still, his position on world's best scrumhalf has not shifted.
2021 has ended with a wrong being made right in the sporting world. Antoine Dupont was the world's best player in 2020, but World Rugby - like FIFA - decided to park the awards for such a disrupted year.
And while Robert Lewandowski then had to settle for second, behind Lionel Messi, late last month, when FIFA staged a ceremony for 2021. In rugby, though, Dupont got his just rewards. On Friday, he was announced player of the year and few were arguing.
Wallabies scrumhalf Will Genia believes the France scrumhalf is a class act, but he still is not switching his opinion on the best No.9 in the game.
Will Genia has not changed his mind on best No.9
Genia, who has 110 caps for Australia, has faced the great and good of the rugby world for well over a decade, so you take his opinion - when offered - and give it due consideration.
When he was on House of Rugby, earlier this year, Genia was picking what would be his 9/10 combination for the British & Irish Lions ahead of their tour to South Africa.
"Either Ben Youngs or Conor Murray [at scrumhalf]," said Genia. "So then you have someone giving you that control, and giving that bit more freedom to Finn Russell at 10."
During that appearance, Genia professed his admiration for All Blacks 9 Aaron Smith. When he spoke with us just ahead of those World Rugby awards, the Aussie had not changed his mind.
Aaron Smith at the epicentre
"I love [Antoine] Dupont, I think he’s an absolute superstar." Genia said.
"I still think Aaron Smith is the best nine in the game because… the All Blacks are a team that are constantly winning, right? And if I look at why and try to understand why that is, he’s at the epicentre of it all.
"He’s the guy that controls the tempo, the guy that controls the pace who isn’t just a nine who’s a distributor but, you know, he’s a playmaker in his own right. His ability to run and snipe and sit defenders down and then create space for guys on the outside, whether that’s forward runners off him or space out wide for his wingers.
"And then he has an amazing ability to manage the game through his kicking game, whether it’s the box kicks or the kicks into space and behind. He’s just the absolute complete package and when I think about his career, he’s been elite essentially since he came into the game at test level.
"He’s been so incredibly consistent and for me, that’s the hallmark of a great, great player, it’s if you can do it for a number of years and be consistent with it. I still regard him as the best, and not just because of nostalgia, because I genuinely think he still plays at that high level.
"But I think Dupont’s certainly right there with him as well. He’s an absolute… I love watching him play."
Fourie Du Preez = G.O.A.T
While Aaron Smith and Conor Murray would have been duelling it out for the 'Best No.9' title from 2012 to 2018, Faf de Klerk and Antoine Dupont have stepped up in recent years.
As for the best scrumhalf in the professional era, both Aaron Smith and Will Genia are in full agreement.
"I was actually chatting to Aaron about scrum-halves recently," said Genia, "and we both agree that Fourie du Preez is the G.O.A.T. To me, he's the best ever I've seen."