Brave Blossoms to put heat on Hodge

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Japan coach Jamie Joseph says they will be turning the heat up on Australia’s new flyhalf Reece Hodge on Saturday afternoon.

Hodge has never started at 10 at the international level, thrown into the playmaking spot after Bernard Foley withdrew with illness.

The 23-year-old has been groomed as a backup 10 for Foley in recent months, but his inexperience has not gone unnoticed by the Brave Blossoms.

Joseph said they would be trying to put as much pressure as possible on the Rebels back in the clash.

"He's a very good player but it's a new position for him," New Zealand-born Joseph said.

"Obviously Cheik (Michael Cheika) and the coaching team see he's got great potential but a Test match is a Test match and we'll be putting pressure on him to see how he goes."

Jamie Joseph will take the Sunwolves reins in 2018. Photo: Getty ImagesIn the countries’ first Test in a decade, Japan will have greater insight into Australia than ever before, with a handful of Sunwolves players in their national squad.

With a host of new faces being brought into the squad, Joseph said his main focus was on bringing his team together, happy to leave more detailed opposition analysis to his individual players.

“We have to get our team focused, the players that have been involved with the Sunwolves have had a lot of experience playing against the calibre of that type of player so we've allowed them to do their own analysis of the Wallabies and we can focus on us,” he said.

Joseph will take the Sunwolves’ reins on top of the Japanese national team in 2018, in a move expected to help build the relationship between the Super Rugby side and the wider Japanese rugby.

The Sunwolves have struggled in their opening two seasons, but  Joseph and fellow Highlanders export Tony Brown will be a part of both setups in 2018.

“A big reason why me and Tony are involved with the Sunwolves is to make sure the alignment is tighter, we can get more consistencies with a game plan and our development,” he said.

“Big workload for the players and the coaches but I think that's the main reason why we got involved in Super Rugby.”

The Wallabies take on Japan on Saturday November 4, kicking off at 2:40pm local, 4:40pm AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.