KILROY Genia has defused troop uprisings, addressed the United Nations and gone toe-to-toe with the world’s top politicians.
So when it came to dispensing advice to his son Will about rugby, the words of an esteemed former Papua New Guinea minister were always going to hit the mark.
It was March of this year and rising Queensland halfback Genia had just been suspended for three Super 14 matches over a spear tackle.
“Coincidentally, I was in Sydney, and I told him call me up and let me know what the outcome is,” Genia Sr said yesterday.
“He rang me and I said: ‘Listen son, you can’t dwell on it.’ He said: ‘Dad, you don’t understand, I really want to play’.”
Having seen his second child’s standard reaction to getting out in backyard cricket growing up in Port Moresby – swipe the stumps and refuse to leave – Genia Sr knew home truths were required.
“I said: ‘That’s the point of a ban. You have to get angry with yourself. After that, it will make a better person out of you.’
“It has clearly worked for Will.”
The fatherly advice had dramatic results. Genia doubled his training efforts and tomorrow night – just five months later
– the 21-year-old will jog onto Suncorp Stadium for his run-on debut as a Wallaby. He will be only the second Papua New Guinean to do so (after Graeme Bond).
“The mother (Elizabeth) and I are very proud of him and very happy for him as well,” Genia Sr said.
“It goes back to him. As parents we have been advising and guiding him but he has a very good head on his shoulders and he is a very good listener.”
The whole six-member Genia “clan” will be in Brisbane tomorrow night to watch on; in a city many of the family now call home.
Will and brothers Frank and Nigel were all sent down from PNG to attend school there.
It was only in grade eight that Genia first played a team sport at Brisbane Boys College, having dedicated his Sundays to church with mum back in Port Moresby.
Genia’s boyhood idol was Steve Waugh and he tried to emulate the Aussie’s dogged refusal to protect his wicket.
“He is a person who doesn’t like to lose. In the backyard cricket, every time he is bowled out all the wickets go flying left, right and centre. ‘I am not gone!’,” Genia Sr laughs.
“That was in him as a kid. He is determined, and always wanting to win.”
Genia Sr’s career revolved around making good decisions under pressure. No more so than when as defence minister he helped settle peacefully a dispute with hundreds of armed PNG soldiers barricaded in their bases in 2001.
Playing sport may not be so serious, but Genia Sr says those genes can’t hurt.
“He has made some good decisions, so it is in the blood I suppose,” he said. After representing PNG in his career, Genia Sr says he has no problems with Will wearing Australia’s colours – for which he qualifies through his Aussie grandparents. “Either way it doesn’t matter. We are just proud that he is playing for Australia,” he said.
“We have no qualms, we’re just very proud.”
There was a time when the surname Genia was famous in PNG because of a well-known politician.
Kilroy Genia is delighted that’s all changed. Now it is the name of a PNG Wallaby.