Reece Hodge could play a Kurtley Beale-esque role as the Wallabies move towards the 2019 World Cup, coach Michael Cheika says.
Hodge stepped up into flyhalf against Japan on Saturday, adding to Test stints on the wing and in the centres, as well as in-game shifts to fullback, highlighting his utility status.
His is a role not dissimilar to that of Beale in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, a tournament that proved the making of the 28-year-old, who has now become close to Australia’s most important player.
While Cheika is reticent to throw too much at Hodge, he said on Saturday the 23-year-old fitted the mould of the super utility.
“Reece is a player that's not just going to play 10, we're going to play (him) at fullback or wing, he can play centre - he can do everything,” he said.
“For right now and for right through to the World Cup, that will be his role - a little bit like Beale's role was like that in the lead-up to the last World Cup, do a bit of everything.
“As long as he's prepared to do a bit of everything and he's a guy that can handle that.
“He’s got a very broad set of shoulders, he likes the responsibility of doing that and I don't want to give him too much but I feel like he's very competent in being able to deal with that.”
With Bernard Foley expected to be healthy for the Wales test, whether Hodge will have another shot at 10 anytime soon remains to be seen, but the youngster said he would like another go.
“I think so. I quite enjoyed it,” he said.
“You get your hands on the ball a bit more than out on the wing. Enjoyed being amongst the action.
(There’s) probably a few things to work on if I had another shot but I really enjoyed it.”
If he does return to the wing against Wales, he will take some valuable lessons from his pivot outing.
“I think I understand probably from playing 10 today how important the communication is from the outside,” he said.
“That’s something I can take going forward, just how important (that is for) the wingers and the running backs, the guys outside, in terms of what the defence is doing and their role and each player and each shape we play.
“That’s something I can take going forward (but) obviously I don’t know where I’m going to play next.”
The Wallabies take on Wales on Saturday November 11 at Millennium Stadium, kicking off on Sunday November 12 at 4:15am AEDT LIVE on beIn Sports and SBS.