Hodgson raring to return

Super Rugby
by AAP

Western Force veteran Matt Hodgson is raring to return to Super Rugby action but says he'll wait until the club's next bye before deciding on his future.

Hodgson missed the Force's first three games after tearing his hamstring during the pre-season but will return off the bench in Friday night's clash with the Crusaders in Christchurch.

The 35-year-old has felt a sense of freedom since relinquishing the captaincy at the end of last season and he's looking forward to producing a strong campaign for the Force.

In all likelihood, this will be his last season.
Hodgson has been a warrior for the Force. Photo: Getty ImagesBut he hasn't closed the door to playing on next year, saying he'll weigh up his future during the Force's next bye in mid-April.

"These next three weeks are pretty important for me," Hodgson said.

"I'll probably sit down and have a chat to my family and the club and see where my head's at.

"The body's ready to go. It's just whether the head's going to be in it.

"I want to finish on a good note. I don't want to linger. I'm playing each game and each block as it comes."
Hodgson in action for the Force last season. Photo: Getty ImagesComplicating matters is the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the Force's future.

SANZAAR are yet to make a decision on the make-up of the competition for 2018 and beyond.

If the ARU are forced to cut one of their franchises, then either the Force, Brumbies or Rebels face the chop.

The Force are doing everything they can off the field to secure their future and Hodgson is intent to help the Perth-based franchise achieve results on the park.

The perennial strugglers have been solid this season, beating the Reds in Perth and almost snaring wins against the Waratahs and Brumbies.
Hodgson will come off the bench against the Crusaders. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Force have never beaten the Crusaders in Christchurch and the team is intent on making history.

Fullback Dane Haylett-Petty (groin) and skipper Ben McCalman (thumb) aren't available but Hodgson's inclusion is a big plus for the Force.

He was inspirational during his four-year stint as skipper but more than happy to relinquish the role this season.

"It's a weird thing when you lose that authority as captain. The young blokes sort of start speaking to you as being part of their group," Hodgson said.

"It's re-energised me and I'm enjoying my footy."

The Crusaders are unbeaten after four matches, three of the wins by four points or less.

The seven-time champions welcome back winger Digby Ioane from a finger injury against the Force, while veteran Test prop Wyatt Crockett has been named for his first start this season.