Wallabies vs Argentina, Quade Cooper injury a major blow
Reece Hodge didn’t try to sugarcoat the significance of Quade Cooper’s Achilles tear.
“Obviously a big loss,” said Hodge, who replaced Cooper at five-eighth in the second half of Australia’s epic 41-26 comeback win over Argentina in Mendoza.
“He’s a very experienced player and the one thing with Quadey is that he’s an expert at getting the best out of those people around him.
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Reece Hodge and Quade Cooper of the Wallabies celebrate. (Getty)
“So we’re not hiding the fact that it’s a massive loss for our team and our squad.”
Despite performing strongly at No.10 against the Pumas, Hodge wasn’t expecting to start as the chief playmaker for the rematch in San Juan on Sunday (5.10am AEST).
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie successfully gambled with just two reserve backs in the Rugby Championship opener, with ‘Mr Fix-It’ Hodge covering every position from 10-15.
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Almost every interview Hodge does includes a question about his preferred position but at 27-years-old he is now at peace with his utility role.
Hodge missed initial selection in the squad to play England but as injuries wreak havoc, is now giving Australian rugby fans another reminder of his reliable value.
“We’ve obviously got two world class 10s in Noah (Lolesio) and James O’Connor,” he said.
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“We’ve got two really good options there heading into the game this weekend.
“It’s up to the guys around them to do their role and make their job easy, and hopefully we can put a polished performance together.”
Another Wallabies player getting used to covering multiple positions is Jordan Petaia.
Jordan Petaia of Australia scores a try. (Getty)
The uber-talented Reds back was expected to start at fullback last weekend but coach Dave Rennie instead opted to use him on the wing and Tom Wright at fullback.
Wright, Petaia, Tom Banks and Andrew Kellaway have all spent time at fullback this season while Jock Campbell and Kurtley Beale could come into the frame ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup.
“That’s definitely one of our strengths in the squad,” said Petaia, a try-scorer on Sunday.
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“We’re all so interchangeable and we can all fill that role being wing or fullback.
“It’s good we’re building depth. Players are learning more roles, and having the ability to fill those roles when we need them to is a strength we’re building on.
“A lot of us in those two positions share a lot of the same qualities.
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“As you saw with Wrighty, he just slotted in quite naturally as well in those Tests where we had injuries, so it’s definitely a positive for us that we were able to interchange and just slot in where Dave needs us.”
Meanwhile, the Wallabies will be without prop Allan Alaalatoa in San Juan following a death in his family.
Alaalatoa is flying home to Australia and his absence is likely to mean a start for Taniela Tupou and a potential debut off the bench for Pone Fa’amausili.
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