Hodge wants to make most of Wallabies whirlwind

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Reece Hodge was the final man to join the Wallabies’ Caloundra contingent, with just hours to contemplate the swift call-up this week.

Rebels rookie Hodge has been called up into the Wallabies camp after an injury to Mike Harris, in a bittersweet moment for the youngster that played out in the space of a few hours on Sunday afternoon.

Harris was ruled out of the Wallabies camp on Monday after pulling his hamstring in the 12th minute of the Rebels’ win over the Force on Sunday.

The veteran's Wallabies dream is not over, with Harris to rehab in Melbourne, with the hope of joining the squad in the next fortnight.

Dealing with another injury was tough for Harris, who hasn’t been in the Wallabies environment since 2013, but he was quick to wish Hodge well after the game.

“He was happy for me and like the professional he is, he just congratulated me,” he said.

“He’s just a great bloke, he said to make the most of the opportunity and soak it all up.”

Harris has been one of Hodge’s greatest influences since he moved down to Melbourne, going over tape with him and offering advice even through a long injury layoff.

“He’s been an experienced head helping me out in my first season of Super Rugby,” he said.

“All the way through preseason, trials even when he was injured, I was  just doing  a lot of video work with him and analysis and stuff like that,” he said.

“He’s just a real calm head, experienced and I’ve learned heaped off him this year.

Now, Hodge wants to make the most of his opportunity and continue to back himself, as he did when he made the shift down south to start his Super Rugby career.

“You always want to put your best foot forward and if I’m here in his place I really want to do myself and him and the team proud,” he said.

“I think you have to take a chance and back yourself.

“I’m just grateful for the opportunity and just really wanted to repay the Rebels and Tony McGahan and the players this year.”

There are a handful of players outside of the 39-man squad who are training as part of the Caloundra side, including Force centre Kyle Godwin and Reds hooker Andrew Ready.

Harris was not the only player who didn’t make it to the first day of camp, as the Wallabies convened on the Sunshine Coast.

Sekope Kepu and Taqele Naiyaravoro are both on their way back from overseas clubs, while Christian Lealiifano is in Canberra, with his partner expecting.

The Wallabies’ 39-man squad will spend a week on the Sunshine Coast before being cut to 30, as they prepare for the first Test against England.