Hodge's form hitting lofty new heights

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

Reece Hodge is in rare form for the Wallabies.

There are few 19-Test players that could lay claim to a man of the match performance on a foreign ground, while playing outside his preferred position, but that's exactly where Hodge is at after a stunning performance in Mendoza.

The 23-year-old was clearly the Wallabies' best player on Sunday morning (AEST), scoring a double and setting up two others.

But fresh off the man of the match performance, Hodge said he still has plenty left in the tank.

"I guess it was good to get involved a little bit more," a sheepish Hodge said post match.Hodge has taken to the left wing like a duck to water. Photo: Getty Images"There are still - I'm still a bit filthy with myself with a few errors that I did make - I missed a couple of tackles as well.

"It definitely wasn't a complete performance and there was plenty to improve on before the Bledisloe."

Hodge is not your typical left winger.

He is best suited at either inside centre or fullback, where he plays almost exclusively for the Rebels, and that lends itself to his unique style on the left edge for the national side.

He roams, particularly in attack, providing a constant threat for Will Genia and Bernard Foley, the former finding Hodge for his first try before delivering what Genia himself described as the best pass he has ever thrown for what would have been Hodge's second, only for the try to be disallowed for an earlier forward pass.

That freedom of position, per Hodge, is only possible when the Wallabies are rolling over the gain line.

"I think it's the forwards' carries that allows me to do that," Hodge said.

"If we aren't getting that quick ball and good carries up the middle I have to stay on the outside and make sure I'm holding their defence.

"Whereas when we get those quick rucks and our forwards are making metres through the middle, it allows me to get out, work around the corner and work hard so I can be an extra option for the first and second receiver."

Can the Wallabies reverse the result in Dunedin? Photo: Getty ImagesAttention now shifts to the Brisbane Bledisloe on October 21.

While it will be a dead rubber, the Wallabies couldn't be more excited to have another crack at the All Blacks, having taken strides since falling to the Kiwis in the Dunedin thriller.

"Obviously it's going to be a tough assignment but we get a week off now, a down week and then we will get into our normal preparation on the Gold Coast for the game," Hodge said

"I think time together helps, our combinations are slowly building and things like ruck speed, our tackling, not going to ground before the opposition and finishing on top - that's slowly improving.

"There is still a bit to work on there but we know if we keep our shape we can attack really well and it's about the same thing in defence.

"It's all about getting that consistency and making sure we keep building, making sure we don't go backwards in any area each week."