Georgia on former Reds coach's mind
DISCARDED Reds boss Richard Graham has rediscovered his love of coaching with Georgia, the obscure hurdle for the Wallabies at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Graham admitted he and wife Liz shared a laugh on Wednesday night when the tournament draw in Japan suddenly divided the loyalties of the proud Aussie.
The man who was skills coach for the Wallabies in 2009-10 will now plot to trip them up as much as possible as attack coach for the brawny Georgians in Pool D.
"I couldn't believe the way the draw worked out," Graham said.
"I've been fortunate to be part of the Wallabies coaching staff and to now get the opportunity to coach against them at a World Cup is brilliant.
"The strength for Georgia is with their forwards who play in the French Top League so I'm on board to expand their skill set so they can test opponents in other ways too."
Graham dropped off the grid completely after being dumped by Queensland just two games into last year's Super Rugby season.
He took a time out to detox but joining the rugby ambitions of the Black Sea nation, between Russia and Turkey, would hardly have been on his radar.
"The end at the Reds was blunt but once you can reflect you realise you love the game and coaching," Graham said.
"The more you go up the tree, the more you manage rather than coach so getting back on the field every session with such receptive players has reinvigorated me."
Graham will fly out for the Georgian capital Tbilisi on Sunday to help guide the Georgians in Tests against Canada, the US, Argentina and Uruguay.
Do the Wallabies and fellow pool rivals Wales have anything to worry about?
"Yes, that's the plan," Graham said.
"The Georgian coach (Kiwi Milton Haig) received a knighthood of sport for automatically qualifying the country for 2019 so beating a Tier One nation is the next goal."
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika may overlook backline aces Will Genia and Kurtley Beale for the Tests next month against Fiji, Scotland and Italy and tune them for a bigger target.
Fitness, training and refreshing may be the plan when the duo return from their European stints so they are sharpened for the first Test against the All Blacks in Sydney on August 19.
"They're both available. It's whether I decide to go there ... or wait until August," Cheika said of the pair being used next month.
Genia will play for French club Stade Francais against English club Gloucester in the European Challenge Cup final at Murrayfield early on Saturday morning (AEST).
"Beale is probably going to go on for another two or three weeks more with the commitments in the English Premiership (with Wasps)," Cheika said.
"I'll just wait and see how they pull up at the end of their seasons."