Rugby: Reds skipper demands clean ball for Genia

Reds halfback Will Genia. Photo / Supplied
Reds halfback Will Genia. Photo / Supplied

Queensland skipper James Horwill has ordered team-mates to provide halfback Will Genia with cleaner ball to fire up the Reds' new-look backline against Super Rugby underdogs Western Force at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

Horwill wasn't happy with the lost ball in the contact and the shortage of quality ball to Genia in last week's heart-stopping injury-time win over NSW.

He's demanded a better effort at the breakdown against the Force, who boast a Wallabies backrow of Matt Hodgson, Ben McCalman and the best pilferer in the game, David Pocock.

Horwill warned the Reds could pay a heavy price if they allowed Pocock to get his hands on the ball at the breakdown early.

"Don't let him get into position, because once he gets on the ball, he's a tough guy to move," warned Horwill, who will lead the Reds at home for the first time since winning last year's title.

"It's going to be a tight contest, very physical up front and tough at the breakdown because we know the personnel they've got."

Genia is still working on his partnership with new No.10 Mike Harris as Wallaby five-eighth Quade Cooper continues his comeback from knee surgery.

The Wallabies halfback also has to blend with the new centre pairing of Ben Tapuai and Jono Lance, who replaces the injured Anthony Faingaa at outside centre.

Horwill said Genia didn't get enough protection against NSW and was subsequently put under too much pressure.

"We need to be better. We probably didn't give him enough clean ball to our back line that we needed to," said Horwill.

"We need to be more clinical in that space, not only with out handling but with our breakdown work. We can't have guys counter rucking.

"The ball needs to be clean for Will to be able to do what he does best."

Horwill smiled when asked if he'd still be playing at the age of 34 like Force second-rower Nathan Sharpe, who's played 100 games for Australia and almost 150 Super Rugby games since 1999.

"He's done well at the age he is. It's a massive effort and for anyone to have that longevity in the game at the highest level is quite remarkable," said Horwill.

Reds officials are expecting more than 30,000 fans with Horwill urging them to make life tough for the Force.

"We're looking forward to getting back to Suncorp and hopefully it's a big crowd and they can make it as uncomfortable as possible for the Western Force," he said.

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