Super boot Hodge a handy weapon for Wallabies

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies want to be a team that pushes for tries over penalty goals, but skipper Michael Hooper is pretty happy to have Reece hodge and his long-range boot up his sleeve.

Hodge stepped up to slot two ultimately match-winning penalties in Brisbane on Saturday night, one from just short of halfway and the other from 53 metres out.

Hooper took some risks when it came to penalties, turning down a chance to kick for the lead early in the second half, that ultimately bore fruit through Marika Koroibete.

And though Hooper said they want to look to touch first, having Hodge in the arsenal gives them another option, and adds some doubt in opponents’ minds.

“You look at the time there, we took that kick, chewed up two minutes and he drains it from 50,” he said.

“It starts when a team reviews you, they start to think about and consider giving away penalties away in certain parts of the field and I think that’s pleasing going forward.

“From Cheik down, we want to be a team that’s putting that in the corner more often than not.

However, to have that in the pocket is a good thing to have.”

In just his second year of professional rugby. Hodge’s composure shows through when he hits those shots and he has no qualms stepping up to the plate.

Hooper said the 23-year-old put his hand up to take the 64th minute shot that solidified the Wallabies’ late lead, and though the winger was more modest, he said he was happy to have a crack from pretty much anywhere.

“I was on the other wing and they pointed to the posts so I came over and Nardy (Bernard Foley)  was telling me I was taking it,” he said.

“I try to be confident from wherever but I was a bit nervous but thankfully it went over.

“They are (low percentage shots) but that’s what you practise for - to make them high percentage shots.

“It was good to finally get a couple over there tonight.”

Hodge said the Wallabies had far from ‘cracked the code’ of the All Blacks.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve cracked the code, it’s one win,” he said.

“We probably didn’t focus too much on what they want to do, it’s more what we do.

“Any team we play now, we want to put the pressure back on them and not have it on us, so our defensive system worked well in that regard tonight and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.

“We’ve been there or thereabouts for probably the last six weeks and I guess it is pleasing to close out a game like that and obviously they were throwing everything they had at us the last couple of minutes.

“It’s a real tick for our defensive system and hopefully we can build on it.”

The Wallabies fly to Sydney on Sunday ahead of a clash with the Barbarians at Allianz Stadium on Saturday.