Rugby News

UPDATE 1-Rugby-"Laptop nerd" Hodge backed to fill Wallabies breach again

(Adds quotes, details, byline)

MELBOURNE, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Utility back Reece Hodge is set to remain Australia’s starting flyhalf for Saturday’s Tri-Nations clash against Argentina, with James O’Connor ruled out for another week with a foot injury.

Two weeks ago, with O’Connor sidelined with a knee problem, Hodge replaced stand-in flyhalf Noah Lolesio in the number 10 shirt and was instrumental in the Wallabies’ 24-22 win over the All Blacks in Brisbane.

Team mate Matt Philip backed Hodge to continue his good form in Newcastle against the Pumas, who are riding high after stunning the All Blacks 25-15 in Sydney last weekend.

“Hodgey is probably the most professional bloke I know,” the Wallabies lock told Australian radio station RSN on Wednesday.

“He’s always spending time on the laptop, he’s a bit of a nerd, watching footage, making sure he knows everything.

“I’ve been very impressed with how he stepped up last week and slotted into the role like he’s been doing it for ages and I think he’s going to get the job done for us this week.”

Australia’s win in Brisbane was their first under new coach Dave Rennie, following a draw and back-to-back losses to the All Blacks.

Scrumhalf Nic White said the rebuilding Wallabies needed successive wins to quash any doubts about their trajectory.

“We were pretty proud of our performance in Wellington but then we didn’t back it up,” White said of the 16-16 draw in the New Zealand capital, which preceded heavy defeats in Auckland and Sydney.

“It took us a few weeks to bounce back from that and we got ourselves to a position where we were proud of our performance in Brisbane.

“We want to make sure we don’t fall into that trap of being happy with that.

“We don’t want to be tagged as a young, inexperienced side and we are putting together back to back wins.” (Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Richard Pullin and Christopher Cushing)