Hodge won't be put in a positional box

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies don't want to pigeonhole utility Reece Hodge, after adding flyhalf to his list of Test positions in Japan.

Hodge is likely to slot back onto the wing against Wales after his playmaking start against Japan, but the Rebels back showed promise at 10.

Whenever the question is put to Hodge, the utility says he’s happy to play wherever he is put and Wallabies skills coach Mick Byrne said it was too early to try and box Hodge into any particular position.

Mick Byrne thinks Reece Hodge has huge potential. Photo: Getty Images“I'm not sure he could play scrum half.but he's played fullback, in the centres, on the wing, 10, he does them all really well,” he said.

“He's a good young player I'd hate to put his best position on his head now.”

Hodge steered a new-look attack that fired in Japan, with a number of big names missing, and centres Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani dominating proceedings.

Kerevi is tipped to retain his starting spot against Wales, after what was his best Test performance, in what would be a chance to show a growing arsenal of weapons.

The Reds centre steamrolled Japanese defenders in Yokohama,but Byrne said the 23-year-old’s determination to add to a ball-crashing trademark was beginning to pay off.

“There have been a lot of those guys that have gone through schoolboy or junior rugby with one strength that has got them through,” he said.

“The guys that go on and make it are the ones that have worked at extra parts of their game. I know Samu has done that extremely well.

“From day one he has taken to working on all aspects of his game and the extra work he's doing is credit to that it is all coming together for him.

Byrne worked with All Blacks centre Ma’a Nonu in his time with New Zealand and said the best midfielders are those who add those different facets to their game.

“We've talked about centres who like to hit the ball up but if they can add another few skills then that strength comes back into their game,” he said.

“I think it's exciting to see a player that can go to the line hard and pass or go to the line hard and kick or go to the line hard and run.

“Suddenly they are a triple threat and it can add to the running game or improve it more.”

The Wallabies' backline has progressed markedly since June, with effectively three months together

It’ll be Wales coming in cold on Saturday, such is the nature of the international calendar, but Byrne said a scrummaging session between Wales and England, and also the experience of the Lions series made them more dangerous.

“Their forwards had a decent session against England I hear,” he said.

“They've had a hit out and coming off a Lions series.

“It's competitive, physical rugby up here and they'll be well and truly ready to play.”

Australia takes on Wales at Millennium Stadium on Saturday November 11, kicking off at 5:15pm local, Sunday 4:15am AEDT LIVE on bein Sports and SBS.