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RugbyU: Target me at your peril, Genia warns Lions

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Dazzling scrumhalf Will Genia Friday warned the British and Irish Lions that shutting him down would only open up other attacking options as Australia look to seize the initiative in this weekend's first Test.

Genia looms as one of the biggest threats to the Lions, who are rumoured to be planning to shut down his avenues of attack in the first Test in Brisbane on Saturday. But the 41-cap Genia said Warren Gatland's team should think again.

"Having watched the Lions in the last few weeks there hasn't been too much space around that ruck area," Genia told a press conference.

"If that's the case then obviously there has to be space somewhere else, so it's just about identifying the right times and taking the right opportunities when they present themselves.

"You just have to deal with that in the game but at the end of the day I'm just one player and if all the attention is on me then there is going to be opportunities elsewhere and I just have to look to give other blokes opportunities."

Genia also said he has worked on building trust and understanding with rookie fly-half James O'Connor after his regular Queensland Reds number 10 Quade Cooper was controversially passed over for selection, even going to the lengths of sharing a room with his new halves partner.

"We're rooming together. We've made a big effort to make sure we've built bonds within the group and with a nine and ten combination you have to do that so you have a trust and a good understanding in each other," he said.

"We've worked hard on that off the field but importantly we've worked hard on developing that combination on the training field.

"It's about understanding how he wants the ball, when he wants the ball, where he wants it and him understanding how I want to play.

"We've been fortunate that we played together in 2011 two Tests against the Barbarians and Wales so we have a little background together. I am really excited about playing with him tomorrow."

Genia said having debutant Christian Lealiifano at inside centre gives the Wallabies another ball player in the backline.

"Christian's big strength is that he can run good lines, he can be very physical, but he's a very creative player," he said.

"He can get the ball in hand and has a really good passing game and with Berrick Barnes at fullback it gives us another couple of playmakers, guys who can step up when James gets held up in rucks and things like that.

He said he has also been impressed with another of the Wallabies' three debutants, former Australian Rules footballer and rugby league international Israel Folau, in the team's training camp.

"He's taken to rugby a lot quicker and a lot better than a lot of people thought (he would)," Genia said of Folau, who will play on the wing.

"He's an incredible athlete. You can see that in the way he can get up and catch high balls. He's quick, he's fast, he's strong.

"To be honest, I'm just really happy that he's in our team because he does provide a bit of 'X factor'. You know he's going to create something from nothing, he's that sort of player."

He added that winning the opening Test in the three-match series would be a massive psychological boost for the Wallabies, who lost the Lions opener in 2001 but then came back to win 2-1.

"In terms of the series the first game is huge. If we can play well and assert ourselves on the game and win it sets us up for the series really well," he said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130621/rugbyu-target-me-at-your-peril-genia-warns-lions