Hodge looks for consistent Wallabies role

It’s been a long wait for Wallabies back Reece Hodge, who has earned his first start since last year’s Rugby Championship when Australia face Argentina on Saturday.

Used mainly as a utility for the Wallabies playing five-eighth, centre, link alternatif rajawaliqq wing and fullback since his debut in 2016 – Hodge came on to replace Tom Banks in Saturday’s win over South Africa when his good friend suffered an arm fracture.

Hodge has since been named in the No.15 jumper for this weekend’s game against Los Pumas and hopes to cement his role as first-choice with six Tests remaining in 2021 – although he says he will take things one game at a time.

“It’s awesome to be able to get another starting berth after they’ve kind of been few and far between in the last couple of years,” Hodge said on Thursday.

“More so just this weekend I’m just taking it one game at a time.

“(It’s) a massive opportunity for myself and the squad this week to put together three back to back wins that, we haven’t done in quite a while.”

Hodge was a stellar replacement in the back-field in the 30-17 win over the Springboks, making smart defensive decisions and key cover tackles.

The only blight on his performance was under pressure of the high-ball through box-kicks from Springbok scrum-half Faf De Klerk, with that area a key focus in this week’s game preparation.

“It’s a constant work on for our back three.

Obviously, I’m very disappointed with my start last week and probably a bit unlike me,” Hodge said.

“In probably over 100 professional games I’ve never kind of had those kind of issues on the high ball before.

“So I’m going to take confidence out of that and then also the work I’ve done this week with the rest of the back three especially under the high ball… “

Hodge’s first start for the year at fullback is the only change to the Wallabies’ back three, with last week’s two-try hero Marika Koroibete on the left wing and Melbourne Rebels flyer Andrew Kellaway on the right.

While Hodge believes he can successfully use his big boot as a territorial weapon on the international stage he said he won’t stray from the overall team game plan.

“It’s something you definitely look for as a space in the back-field, especially if you’ve caught it in your own half,” he said on the 50-22 kick rule.

“But in saying that, we want to play an attacking style of rugby as well so I guess it’s about having balance in terms your decision making from the back.”

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