Hodge survives first Wallabies cut

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Reece Hodge vowed to make the most of his unlikely Wallabies shot and the Melbourne Rebels has survived the first cut.

Hodge impressed Michael Cheika after being added to the squad in place of the injured Mike Harris and his versatility has been a handy weapon at least in training, without Harris or Christian Lealiifano in camp.

“Reece has really impressed me this week after being thrown into the deep end,” Cheika said.

“It’s not just about being in the environment for him now and I know he’ll be pushing for selection in the match day 23.”

Hodge was originally named in the squad as a replacement to injured back Mike Harris. Photo: ARU Media/Brian Hook

The 21-year-old is the only real bolter included in a trimmed down 33-man squad named by Cheika on Friday afternoon, as the team heads to Brisbane.

Karmichael Hunt will also have the chance to push for a spot, included in the 13 backs to head south from the Sunshine Coast.

Former captain James Horwill is still in the running to return to Test rugby, after cutting short his honeymoon to join Wallabies camp last week.

With Sekope Kepu on Friday signalling his intent to return to Super Rugby and Taqele Naiyaravoro announcing a move last week, Horwill is the only overseas-based player in the squad.

Cheika has cut six players from the initial squad, not including Harris's withdrawal, with James Hanson, Adam Coleman, Liam Gill, Eto Nabuli, Joe Powell and Leroy Houston left out.

Karmichael Hunt is in the frame for the first Test after training on Friday. Photo: ARU MediaPowell and Houston were two of Cheika's most left-field selections in the initial 39-man squad and the latter will now return to the Queensland Reds.

Powell's departure means that the Wallabies halfback spots for England are all but secured with Nick Phipps and Nick Frisby the only two nines in the squad.

Gill would be unlikely to add to his Test tally now, with an impending move to France.

Qantas Wallabies 33-man training squad for the 2016 England Series (in alphabetical order):

Alan Alaalatoa* (Brumbies)

Rory Arnold* (Brumbies)

Sam Carter (Brumbies)

Scott Fardy (Brumbies)

Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs)

Bernard Foley (NSW Waratahs)

Nick Frisby* (Queensland Reds)

Dane Haylett-Petty* (Western Force)

Reece Hodge* (Melbourne Rebels)

Greg Holmes (Queensland Reds)

Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs)

Rob Horne (NSW Waratahs)

James Horwill (Harlequins)

Karmichael Hunt* (Queensland Reds)

Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs)

Samu Kerevi* (Queensland Reds)

Tevita Kuridrani (Brumbies)

Christian Lealiifano (Brumbies)

Ben McCalman (Western Force)

Sean McMahon (Melbourne Rebels)

Stephen Moore (Brumbies)

Luke Morahan (Western Force)

Dean Mumm (NSW Waratahs)

Taqele Naiyaravoro (NSW Waratahs)

Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs)

Nick Phipps (NSW Waratahs)

David Pocock (Brumbies)

Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs)

Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds)

Scott Sio (Brumbies)

Will Skelton (NSW Waratahs)

James Slipper (Queensland Reds)

Toby Smith (Melbourne Rebels)

*denotes uncapped at Test level

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