Hodge ready for Wallabies five-eighth role

Backline utility Reece Hodge has put his hand up for a crack at the Wallabies' No.10 on the spring tour of Japan and Europe.

 

And he has the full backing of skipper Michael Hooper, who fondly recalls Hodge dominating as a playmaker during his junior days in Sydney club rugby.

Hodge has proven a revelation since making his international debut last year. He was instrumental in the Wallabies' drought-breaking win last month over the All Blacks.

Playing on the wing, he opened Australia's account with a runaway intercept try before booting the side to victory with two clutch penalty goals at Suncorp Stadium.

In overlooking Quade Cooper for the four-Test tour, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is pinning his faith in Hodge and Kurtley Beale as back-up to chief playmaker Bernard Foley.

Hodge is embracing the challenge while, "touch wood", hoping Foley remains injury-free as the Wallabies strive for their first unbeaten spring campaign since 1996 when they face Japan, Wales, England and Scotland on successive Saturdays.

Hodge is ready to step into Foley's shoes. Pic: Getty

"It's a nice show of faith and I've just got to do whatever I can to prepare as if it could happen and make sure I'm comfortable stepping into the role," the 23-year-old told AAP.

"I played up until Aussie under-20s at No.10 so I've played most of my career in that position.

"I guess it's like switching a flick in your mind to be able to take control of the game."

The Wallabies' new-age Adam Ashley-Cooper, Hodge played four Tests at inside centre before moving this season to the wing.

Hooper has no doubt the versatile youngster would deliver if needed at No.10, the captain remembering when Hodge starred for Manly before being snapped up in 2015 by the Melbourne Rebels.

"My brother was on the wing so I'd get down to Manly when I could," Hooper said.

"When they were going well and made the final there the year before he went down to Melbourne, he (Hodge) was instrumental in leading the team around the field there, along with Sam Lane.

"So he's got experience there, he's got confidence there and he's got a great boot to get himself out of trouble.

"And we've seen the running game in the last couple of Tests, so I'm sure he knows he can do it at this level."

Cheika will name his team on Thursday to play Japan on Saturday in Yokohama.

"While winning games is a priority and we have to pick teams accordingly, there's definitely the opportunity in there to play some players, experiment a bit - within reason - while being able to get the result," Hooper said.

"'Cheik' being Cheik, he'll be better in the know about that but I'm sure he'll have faith in the guys to do the job."

Back To Top
feedback