Veteran halfback Will Genia has called on Australian officials to make the Wallabies’ indigenous jersey permanent.  Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP
Veteran halfback Will Genia has called on Australian officials to make the Wallabies’ indigenous jersey permanent. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP

Genia calls for permanent Wallabies indigenous jersey

VETERAN halfback Will Genia has urged Australian rugby officials to consider making permanent the indigenous jersey worn by the Wallabies in last year's third Bledisloe Test.

As debate rages across the ditch about the significance of the haka, following the release of an extract from a forthcoming book titled The Jersey, Genia says the indigenous-inspired Wallabies jersey has proved to be their own source of cultural significance.

"I'd love to wear it all the time," Genia told reporters.

"I'm not the boss, but I certainly think it's something that they should think about because it's a representation of all of our cultures and I think that part should be emphasised as much as any part."

Indeed, the Wallabies squad is more multicultural than ever, a diverse ethnic mix representative of modern Australia.

Twenty of the current squad were born in Australia and eight drew their first breath overseas.

Will Genia says the indigenous jersey should just be called the “Australian” jersey. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images
Will Genia says the indigenous jersey should just be called the “Australian” jersey. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

"It's Australia," said Genia, who was born in Papua New Guinea.

"Being Australian (means) we all come from different lands, but we call this place home.

"That's why I think that it's important.

"We probably shouldn't refer to it as the indigenous jersey, it should be just the Australian jersey in a sense, because we're all Australian."

Last year's third Bledisloe Test in Brisbane is the only time the Wallabies have worn the jersey.

Making the 23-18 victory all the sweeter, it snapped a seven-match losing streak against the All Blacks.

The jersey won high praise within the team and was widely well received by the Australian public, with manufacturer Asics commissioned to run a second production run.

Indigenous Australian Kurtley Beale led the chorus of praise about the jersey following last year's win.

While it's commonly thought within Rugby Australia that the Wallabies will once again wear an indigenous-inspired jersey in 2018, no date has been confirmed.

"I certainly felt pretty privileged to wear that jersey in terms of what it represents," Genia said.

"Having someone, especially like Kurtley a part of the group, it has extra significance, so I love it."

The Wallabies celebrate their Bledisloe Cup victory over the All Blacks at Suncorp Stadium on October 21 last year.
The Wallabies celebrate their Bledisloe Cup victory over the All Blacks at Suncorp Stadium on October 21 last year.

Genia's comments came as the All Blacks were forced to defend their use of the haka after two former players were quoted as saying the pre-game war cry was overused.

"It has lost its mana. It has become a showpiece," former prop Kees Meeuws said in The Jersey, which was written by British journalist Peter Bills.

"The last thing any of us want to see is players doing the haka just for the sake of it."

All Blacks legend Sir Colin Meads agreed: "We were haka-ed out there for a while and still are."

But All Blacks back-rower Sam Cane hit out at the claims made in the new book, saying the current crop of players were well aware of the cultural significance of the haka.

"The only article I've seen on it was around Kees Meeuws and we've been informed that unfortunately he was misquoted," Cane told reporters on Monday.

"That's a shame.

"We love doing the haka. "It's sort of the final touch of 'we're ready to go'.

"We're well aware of the strong history it has and it's part of who we are as All Blacks. It's as strong and powerful as ever."

Genia, meanwhile, said it was an honour facing the haka and that the Wallabies respected the cultural significance of it.

"I love it," Genia said.

"It's just an expression of their culture.

"People can say it's over-commercialised, but they don't do it for a commercial purpose.

"They do it because it's something that's important for them in terms of their culture.

"From our perspective we have an incredible amount of respect for it.

"It's also a spectacle as well. It's great to be a part of.

"You want to play the All Blacks because they're the best team in the world, but you also want to play them because it's a privilege to face something like that within our game."

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