Super Rugby

Impressive Hodge in contention for Wallabies debut

Melbourne Rebels utility back Reece Hodge could make his Australia debut against England next weekend after surviving the first trimming of Michael Cheika's squad for the opening Test in Brisbane.

Hodge, who only made his first Super Rugby appearance in February, was not included in an initial 39-man selection, but received a call-up when Rebels team-mate Mike Harris sustained a hamstring injury.

The 21-year-old has since made a significant impression on national coach Cheika and is one of seven uncapped players in contention to face England, along with Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Nick Frisby, Dane Haylett-Petty, Karmichael Hunt and Samu Kerevi.

"Reece has really impressed me this week after being thrown into the deep end," said Cheika.

"It's not just about being in the environment for him now and I know he'll be pushing for selection in the matchday 23."

Adam Coleman, Eto Nabuli, Liam Gill, Joe Powell, James Hanson and Leroy Houston have been cut from the original party.

Experienced prop Sekope Kepu is included, however, on the day his return to Australia with the Waratahs was announced.

Kepu, whose stint with Bordeaux comes to an end, said: "I really enjoyed my time in France, while experiencing a new rugby culture with my family.

"The opportunity to come home and reconnect with the Wallabies and play Super Rugby is an honour for me, and I am looking forward to joining the boys and working hard to earn a spot in the team against England during the series."

Australia will play three Tests against an England side under the stewardship of former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones.


Australia squad: Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Sam Carter, Scott Fardy, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Nick Frisby, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Greg Holmes, Michael Hooper, Rob Horne, James Horwill, Karmichael Hunt, Sekope Kepu, Samu Kerevi, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, Ben McCalman, Sean McMahon, Stephen Moore, Luke Morahan, Dean Mumm, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Wycliff Palu, Nick Phipps, David Pocock, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, Will Skelton, James Slipper, Toby Smith.