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Hodge to Beale: I want your jersey

The Melbourne Rebels' Reece Hodge. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)
Roar Guru
6th June, 2017
4

Kurtley Beale may have been lured back to Australia with the promise of a Wallabies No.12 jersey but Reece Hodge won’t be handing it over without a fight.

Beale isn’t available for the Wallabies’ first Test of the year, against Fiji on Saturday in Melbourne, resting after completing his English club duties.

The inside centre jersey was reportedly dangled by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika to get Beale back on Australian soil.

But Hodge, who nailed down the position with nine Test appearances in 2016, is hopeful of getting first crack at it against the Pacific Islanders and putting some doubt into Cheika’s mind.

“I tried not to take too much notice of the story, but it was a bit of a motivator because if he was back I’d have to do all I could to get that position,” Hodge said of Beale.

“He’s a great player and obviously he wasn’t available for selection last year so I wasn’t really competing with him.

“I just want to push for the spot on my own merit whether he’s back or not but healthy competition is always good for the squad.”

With Reds skipper Samu Kerevi missing the Test through injury, the Melbourne Rebel is facing competition from Kyle Godwin and Waratahs veteran Rob Horne for a start.

Hodge, 22, is counting on his big boot giving him an edge, particularly with none of the likely back three for the Test noted kickers.

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He said it had been a skill he’d been working hard on this season.

Filling different holes in the injury-ravaged Rebels backline, Hodge also offers utility value – in much the same way Beale has been a long-time Mr Fixit for the Wallabies.

” I’d happily play any position if it means getting a Test match for Australia; it’s such an honour and privilege to pull on the jersey so if I do get selected I’m happy to fill in anywhere.”