Australia’s own Swiss Army knife Reece Hodge is happy with his utility back role and will be content should Dave Rennie give the fly-half berth to one of his team-mates.
Hodge played a starring role off the bench in the victory over Argentina, helping his side recover from 19-10 down as they claimed a 41-26 triumph.
With Quade Cooper starting and no natural fly-half cover among the replacements, the 27-year-old was not likely to come on at pivot, but Cooper’s injury rather forced Wallabies head coach Rennie’s hand.
Although the Melbourne Rebel has experience in the key playmaking position, it is not something he has done regularly.
World Cup hopes
“I think at the moment I’m just happy to play that utility kind of position and week to week I’ll fit in wherever needed,” Hodge told reporters.
“Eight weeks ago I missed out on the squad for (the) England (series) and for me every opportunity to be in the Test squad is a privilege.
“I enjoyed getting extended minutes on the weekend despite being so gutted for Quadey sustain that injury but I genuinely am willing to play wherever the team needs me.
“If we were to sit down now and say that I could contribute as part of the match-day squad heading into a World Cup, then it’s something I’d be happy with; I’m just thrilled to be back in the squad.”
Lolesio was given the responsibility during the England series and impressed, but it is still a close call for Rennie to make.
O’Connor, like Hodge, is also capable of playing in multiple positions along the backline but has settled at pivot over the past couple of years.
“Quade’s a very experienced player and he’s an expert at getting the best out of people around him so we’re not hiding the fact that it’s a massive loss for us,” Hodge said.
“But Noah steered us to a series win against France last year and was very solid in that England series as well.
“And then James has played 50-plus Tests and his form at the start of the Super Rugby season for the Reds was outstanding. He was probably one of the best players in the competition early on so we’ve got two really good options heading into the game this weekend.”
O’Connor has struggled with injury at times, which may count against him in the selection call, but Hodge insists that the talented Reds playmaker has gone well in training.
“Rabs (O’Connor) has got his body in really good shape and he’s been training well the last month and really pushing for selection,” he added.
“Whether it’s him or Noah who get the nod heading into this weekend we’re confident that both of them are in great physical shape and both training really well so whoever steers us around will have the full confidence of the squad.”
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