Hodge will have chance to put heat on Debreczeni

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Rebels coach Dave Wessels is giving Jack Debreczeni a week off against the Sunwolves, but there’s no guarantee he’ll walk straight back into the starting 10 spot.

Debreczeni has been rested after playing nine full games this season, with Reece Hodge taking the reins.

Wessels said he was happy with Debreczeni's season so far, but he looked fatigued against the Brumbies, leading the coach to give him some time off.

Hodge replaced Debreczeni in that match against the Brumbies and was influential in the last half hour in that match.

“I'm pleased with the way Jack's played, particularly early, we were leading the competition for tries scored and a number of attacking stats," he said

“You're not doing that if your quarterback's not quality.

“I think one of the things that maybe we've made the mistake of, is I felt during the Brumbies game that he looked a bit tired, probably emotionally and physically, a little bit tired.

“I've discussed this a fair bit with him and just having these two weeks off, get away from rugby for a while, just refresh, I think is going to help his body and his mind.”

Jack Debreczeni will start at 10 on Friday night. Photo: Getty ImagesHodge has been earmarked as a potential 10 for the Wallabies, after featuring in the position against Japan last year. 

Wessels said a strong outing from Hodge would certainly make the selection conversation a tricky one ahead of the Blues game.

“I just think the timing is right to make that change,” he said.

“That's not to say it's a permanent change - it obviously depends a fair bit on how Reece plays tomorrow night, if Reece goes out and plays well, which I fully expect him to, we've got some selection headaches on our hands but we have that in a number of other areas so it's a good problem to have.

Fullback Dane Haylett-Petty’s return is a welcome one on and off the field, Wessels said.

“Dane's a real leader in our team and just having his voice around and his presence makes a real difference to us,” he said.

“I think the other thing we've probably missed a little bit in the last couple of weeks is the ability to create pressure through our kicking game and I think Dane really understands how to do that, almost better than most people in Australian rugby I would think.

“During the Brumbies game, we didn't exit particularly well, that was one of the parts of our game that we felt we didn't do well.

“That's an area that Dane just by including him, suddenly tidies itself up because he understands that stuff so well. He's a big boost for us and obviously really pleased to have him.”

The Rebels take on the Sunwolves on Friday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST at AAMI Park, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.