Rebels want to pull the trigger: Hodge

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Rebels want to pull the scoring trigger earlier in 2017, after another season of close finishes, back Reece Hodge says.

While they’ve worked to recruit a number of powerful wingers, newly re-signed Hodge said it was a whole team policy to be more effective.

Sefa Naivalu showed his growth on Tuesday night, stepping past four Reds defenders on the way to the Rebels’ opening score of the night at Ballymore.

“We all know what he can do when he gets a little bit of space and we saw that in the Reds trial on Tuesday night with an awesome try he scored,” he said.

“I think he's an awesome player and I think he's definitely growing in stature in the squad from that (Wallabies) experience.

“He can probably bring a bit back to the younger wingers as well.

Sefanaia Naivalu has capped a rapid rise. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley“So, it's really awesome to play with him - similar to Marika (Koroibete), to have someone on the outside who can pull a little bit of spark out from nowhere and get a try out of the blue.”

While Naivalu is already posing a threat, Hodge said it was a whole team policy to finish off their work.

“I think we talked a lot about this preseason in trying to pull the trigger a little bit earlier and not have to do so much work for no result,” Hodge said.

“It's more across the board for the team to finish off rather than one guy in particular but, in saying that, definitely having the guys who can break tackles and step as many defenders as they want is definitely a positive for the team and hopefully we can score some more tries this year.”

The addition of a powerful wing department means Hodge will be able to embed himself in his preferred centre position, after playing all but one position in the backline last year.

“I quite enjoyed my time there (in the centres) on the Spring Tour and played my trial there the other day,” he said.

“I think I'm most comfortable there and would love to play there long term.

“I'm still willing to play wherever the team needs me and wherever Tony wants to put me but I like to start off at 12 and see how I go.”

The Rebels’ backs might be firing but their forwards have been hit with another injury.

Toby Smith is set to miss three months a hamstring injury against the Reds on Tuesday night, and missed Thursday’s season launch due to surgery.

 Smith joins Sean McMahon and Koroibete on the injury list before the start of the season.

The Rebels take on the Blues in the Super Rugby season opener on Thursday February 23, kicking off at 7:35pm AEDT.