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Thread: Forgetting about Test rugby helped Matt Hodgson at Force, leading to Wallaby recall

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    Forgetting about Test rugby helped Matt Hodgson at Force, leading to Wallaby recall

    Iain Payten
    The Daily Telegraph
    September 04, 2014 7:00PM


    GIVING up personal Test ambitions and focusing on captaining the Force to Super Rugby success was behind a recall to the Wallabies for Matt Hodgson.

    The veteran flanker will play off the bench against the Springboks in his home town of Perth tomorrow night, over three years since his last appearance in Wallabies colours.

    Hodgson was rewarded for his standing as one of Australia’s most consistent loose forwards in 2011 when he won two Test caps against Samoa and South Africa.

    But he missed out on a World Cup spot when Robbie Deans infamously opted to take only one no.7 to New Zealand, which blew up spectacularly when David Pocock was injured against Ireland.

    “Probably through the disappointment of the World Cup, and not getting selected after that, I probably re-focused a fair bit, and just wanted to have some solid minutes and performances through the Force,” Hodgson said.

    “Obviously taking over the captaincy here I just enjoyed my time, and getting the team to the level I knew it could it be, was probably the biggest focus.”

    Hodgson, 32, said playing for the Wallabies was not on his agenda in 2014.

    “Probably not. It was probably to focus on the Force. We had a good run last year and it was probably to drive the Force to get another good season. Through that we had good combinations and the highest number of Force players in a while,” he said.

    “So that momentum and the way the team played helped me get selected.”

    The Force had their most successful season this year, winning ... games, and the modest Hodgson can take more than his fair share of credit.

    There are better defensive forwards in Australia, and with Pocock injured, none better over the ball.

    After the Wallabies defence was run ragged by the Kiwis’ tempo in Auckland, Hodgson will be asked to slow the Springboks ball down and give the Australian defence to set up.

    In a long career that saw Hodgson move from NSW to Perth to escape the shadow of Phil Waugh, his Test ambitions were also blocked by a succession of flankers like George Smith and Pocock as well.

    How did he feel when yet another - now skipper Michael Hooper - emerged?

    “I just saw it as a challenge. There have always been a number of no.7s in the comp. Even David Croft, he’s one I looked at. He had a fair bit of disappointment and was probably one of the best players as well,” Hodgson said.

    “It is definitely challenging being in one of that popular position but it also enjoyable. It keeps me young and wanting to strive further.

    Without him and Poey this year I wouldn’t have pushed as hard and got the results I did.”

    Definitely not. The Force is the place I am focusing on, and I only have short-term goals with the Wallabies. Hopefully through a good few performances off the bench I can push for the starting team.

    If the Force play well again next year then hopefully I can aim for that World Cup, but that’s next year’s focus.

    Definitely the way they train. They go hard out during training, so it has helped with that contact. And their mentality, what they think about in the carry and breakdown. So that has probably helped. We have had good results against South African opposition use smarts and variation we like to muscle up as well slight variations, move the ball, playing at an up-tempo pace, don’t let them get set. That’s an area we are focusing on players in motion disrupts their defence

    Come into the back end try and slow their ball down a bit more, and get on the ball, so the mindset there is hopefully I can get on it, slow it down and we can get our defensive line set.

    http://www.foxsports.com.au/rugby/wa...-1227048061022

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    Speaks spades about our captain, who really went to another level this year.

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