Sport Genia proud of O'Connor's transformation

13:51  08 april  2021
13:51  08 april  2021 Source:   aap.com.au

Cooper and Genia aiming high in Japan

  Cooper and Genia aiming high in Japan Veteran Wallabies halves Quade Cooper and Will Genia begin the knockout stage of the Japan Top League this weekend with ambitious club Kintetsu Liners.As a qualifier from the second-tier challenger tournament, Kintetsu went into the pot for the first knockout round.

Former Wallabies star Will Genia has praised the "complete transformation" of James O'Connor, saying he's thrilled to see his former teammate thriving.

Will Genia holding a football ball: Will Genia says he is proud of how ex-teammate James O'Connor has rediscovered a passion for rugby. © AP PHOTO Will Genia says he is proud of how ex-teammate James O'Connor has rediscovered a passion for rugby.

O'Connor's career was at the crossroads in 2017 when he was arrested in Paris for possessing cocaine.

That incident came after he had fallen out of favour at the Wallabies following a string of off-field incidents.

O'Connor had lost his passion for the game at the time, and had become a shell of his former self as he battled with drugs, alcohol, and depression.

Aussie rugby should go to Japan: Cooper

  Aussie rugby should go to Japan: Cooper Former Wallabies teammates Quade Cooper and Will Genia believe Japan is a fertile breeding ground for rugby stars, but it needs more global competition. Cooper and his former Queensland Reds teammate Will Genia currently play for Japanese second-division side Kintetsu Liners, and they've been blown away by the quality of rugby in that country.

But the 30-year-old has transformed his life, winning back his Wallabies spot and even being named stand-in skipper at the Queensland Reds earlier this year.

Genia, who is now with Japanese club Kintetsu Liners, has watched on with pride as his good friend came out the other side of his struggles.

"Just as a mate, it's been great to see his transformation," Genia said.

"You think about where he's come from, with the cocaine issues, the prescription drug issues and just losing the enjoyment and passion for playing football.

"Obviously he had to deal with his issues personally around how he was as a person and how he carried himself.

"I'm just so happy to see – it's like a complete transformation. He's now the captain of the Queensland Reds.

"That's a reflection of how he's changed the way he is as a person, how much he's grown, how much he's matured.

"More than the rugby, I'm just so happy to see he's come through the other side and come through as such a better person now. That genuinely makes me happy."

The Reds sit on top of the Super Rugby AU standings with a perfect 6-0 record, and will be aiming to make it seven straight wins when they take on the Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

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