6:02am Saturday 30th November 2013
LEIGH Halfpenny or Israel Folau? It's a tough choice but Australia scrum-half Will Genia didn't take long to provide his answer, writes Chris Kirwan.
The Wales full-back has had a remarkable 2013 in which he kicked Wales to Six Nations glory and then won man of the series in the Lions' success down Under.
The 24-year-old has been nominated for the IRB Player of the Year award and is on a 10-strong shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
But opposite number Folau has not been too shabby himself, scoring eight Test tries to be within one of a Wallabies record and fast becoming their biggest attacking weapon with his strength, agility and aerial prowess.
The Aussies' number nine was very respectful of Halfpenny – "Leigh was outstanding for the Lions and Wales in the Six Nations and it's great to see him recognised, because he is a great player" – but would plump for his teammate.
"Leigh's bloody good but I'd pick Israel – who would you rather run at you?!" said 25-year-old Genia, who has never lost to Wales.
"Izzy is a phenomenal athlete," said Genia. "He is an unbelievable player, great in the air, running the ball, in defence, making try-saving tackles and scoring tries.
"You have absolute faith that when he gets the ball he will get over the gain line and give you momentum.
He's a special player.
"I always knew he would be good but I thought it would take him a bit longer to hit his straps.
"It is scary to think how good he could get because full-back is a difficult position with having to understand when the kick and positioning, he will get better at those things with time."
The full-back has plenty of improvement to come and so, seemingly, do the Wallabies under new coach Ewan McKenzie.
After a disappointing defeat to England they have got back on track with victories against Italy, Ireland and Scotland.
"I expect it to be a tight game against Wales," said Genia. "This is our last game of the year and the excitement levels are up; it's almost like a Grand Final and we want to finish the year off well.
"We are in a good place," he continued. "We've got a new coach and are building with Ewan trying to establish a new culture, and the players are buying into it."
© Copyright 2001-2014 Newsquest Media Group