Youngsters impressing in Wallabies camp

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

From the day he was rushed into Wallabies camp on the Sunshine Coast, Reece Hodge just wanted to soak everything up.

The 21-year-old has impressed the national setup at every opportunity, seeking advice off teammates and coaches alike, surviving each camp cut along the way, though a Test debut has eluded him so far.

He has even more experience to learn from this time around, with a handful of backs returning from Europe for the series and skills coach Mick Byrne also joining the Wallabies set up ahead of the Rugby Championship.

Hodge has proved his versatility this season, playing almost every backline position for the injury-ravaged Rebels and was reluctant to pigeon hole himself.

“I think we've tried a few different combinations out at training and played in a few different positions so I think this week we'll go into more specifics in terms of preparation for the next couple of weeks.

“At this stage I’m just training wherever I'm put and I try to execute my skills in whichever position I'm put.

“I've played half at centre and half at fullback this year with the Rebels so either centre position or fullback I'm (most comfortable) and even the wing.

“I'm comfortable playing wherever I'm put and I've just got to keep developing the range of skills that suit each position.”

Hodge is one of four uncapped Wallabies in the Rugby Championship squad, with Lopeti Timani, Tom Robertson and Allan Alaalatoa.

Wallabies captain Stephen Moore said the attitude of all of the potential debutants had been good.

“I think it's important that those players continue to come through and likewise the guys coming back from Europe will add that experience so there's a good mix there of them and the young players that have come into the squad have been really impressive,” he said.

Stephen Moore had plenty of praise for the Wallabies rookies. Photo: Getty ImagesRobertson had the unusual fortune of being allowed to play in his Shute Shield grand final last weekend, before the Wallabies camp came together.

Moore said the rookie prop was especially enthusiastic about improving and learning every day.

“He's really been keen to learn,” he said.

“He played in the Sydney club rugby grand final on the weekend so he's playing rugby and he's in there asking questions and learning all the time.

“He's had a great Super Rugby season so he deserves his opportunity here and I'm looking forward to working hard with him.”