Hodge sure he can fill Wallabies No.13
Posted on 09/13/18 6:51 PM
Reece Hodge is growing in confidence in the outside centre role he appears increasingly likely to fill for the Wallabies in this week Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney.
With Curtis Rona omitted when coach Michael Cheika cut his squad from 36 to 28 on Sunday, there is no regular outside centre left to fill the spot left vacant by injuries to Tevita Kuridrani and Samu Kerevi.
Captain Michael Hooper (hamstring), prop Scott Sio (shoulder) and outside back Dane Haylett-Petty (knee) all passed fitness tests to remain in the squad along with exciting uncapped backs Tom Banks and Jack Maddocks.
Utility back Hodge has played at outside centre for the Melbourne Rebels but has never started a Test there.
Israel Folau is the other obvious option but Cheika has a preference for him at fullback.
Hodge believed he could handle the specialised role after some intensive work since the squad assembled.
“I guess getting a bit of time there at training over the past few weeks has made me a lot more confident within the environment, ” Hodge said.
“It’s just about doing those combinations.”
Inside centre Kurtley Beale backed Hodge’s adaptability.
“Reece is obviously a very versatile player and I’m sure if given the opportunity will step up and do a fine job,” Beale said.
“Obviously Israel has played there during Super Rugby as well and I”m sure he will be able to get the job done as well.”
Asked why he thought Australia’s Bledisloe Cup drought could end this year, Beale harked back to the 23-18 over the All Blacks in the third 2017 Bledisloe Cup clash in Brisbane.
“I think we can take a lot of confidence out of the last time we played them,” he said.
“Up in Brisbane was a huge game for us and we turned things around after the second game last year.
“But in between that there’s been a lot of games where we’ve learnt a lot about how we want to be as a team.”
Rona apart, other players omitted from the original 36-man squad were backrower Caleb Timu, who started the first two Tests against Ireland, fellow forwards Folau Faingaa, Jermaine Ainsley and Rory Arnold and backs Billy Meakes, Jordan Petaia and Sefa Naivalu.
Forwards: Allan Alaalatoa, Adam Coleman, Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper (capt), Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, David Pocock , Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tom Robertson, Izack Rodda, Pete Samu, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, Lukhan Tui, Taniela Tupou.
Backs; Tom Banks, Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Jack Maddocks, Nick Phipps, Joe Powell, Matt Toomua.