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Thread: Mitchell's Mr Fix-It taking care of back-row business

  1. #1
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    Mitchell's Mr Fix-It taking care of back-row business

    Phil Wilkins | April 10, 2009

    THE Mr Plods of European rugby union remain infatuated with the draught-horse era, but don't let the Western Force hear criticism of the hell-for-leather football of the Experimental Law Variations.

    The Reds' captain, James Horwill, was in a state of shock at Subiaco Oval after the Force's 39-7 win, declaring: "Full credit to the Force. They came out and bashed us off the ball at the breakdown. They dominated at the breakdown and we couldn't do much about it. They were very good tonight. We just didn't turn up."

    Horwill's praise was significant. His own Reds back row contained two Wallabies, blindside breakaway Hugh McMenamin and No.8 Leroy Houston, and former New Zealand Test open-sider, Daniel Braid. When head coach John Mitchell learned of Scott Fava's plan to return to wear the Waratahs badge of NSW, he called into his Force office another former Eastwood player, Matt Hodgson.

    Mitchell rules with an iron rod, but he is as smart as he is disciplined, having captained and coached New Zealand and guided the Waikato Chiefs to the Ranfurly Shield.

    Mitchell appreciated earlier than most coaches that under the ELVs, speed to the breakdown, stamina to stay the course and, of huge importance, aggression over the ball were crucial factors in the Super 14.

    Mitchell wanted Hodgson, a tireless, 100kg open-side breakaway of the Phil Waugh variety, generally regarded as physically too small for anything but No.7, to become his Mr Fetch-it and Mr Fix-it of the back row.

    Hodgson, the Force man of the year for 2006-07 for contributions on and off the field, embraced the challenge with fervour, possessing the experience, toughness and nous to accommodate the positional switches.

    Consequently, he has acquitted himself admirably in all three back-row positions, particularly as blind-side flanker against the Reds when his early turnovers swung the tide the western way.

    Hodgson's outstanding game won him man of the match honours and he was foremost in Horwill's thoughts about the Force's breakdown gang with dynamic open-side ally David Pocock, strong-running Test No.8 Richard Brown and punishing reserve back-rower, Tamaiti Horua.

    Breakaways fly where rivals fear to tread. A boot to the eye saw Hodgson in the blood bin to be to be replaced by Horua, but he was back in 11 minutes, not caring to leave his starting berth overlong to the tender mercies of the 114kg Horua.

    Now 27, Hodgson was delighted when he received the call to become a foundation member of the Force in Perth in 2006. Anything to escape the shadow of Waugh, the inspirational Waratahs open-sider. Only later did Hodgson realise the significant impact Pocock would have on the Force in his quest for the No.7 jumper.

    Hodgson loves life in Perth, his value recognised by Mitchell with an extension of his contract into 2011.

    The Force meet the sixth-placed Hurricanes tonight in a crucial game at Subiaco Oval, the New Zealanders captained by Test No 8, Rodney So'oialo, when the battle will be on again for Hodgson and his razor gang.

    He has played Sevens for Australia as well as Australia A rugby, but at the back of Hodgson's mind is another jumper.

    "It's every boy's dream to play for the Wallabies. I take that thought into every game I play, and I'm still playing for it."

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  2. #2
    Champion Contributor sandgroperrugby's Avatar
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    Gee Hodgo must be one dedicated man if sheer will power alone could win the Wallabies jumper he would have it. He is a great asset for the Force and one of the quite achievers of the pack, last week he showed what he can do. We have him for another 2 years with none of the other who ha that some of the other players have signing contracts.

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    Generally speaking you aren’t learning much if your lips are moving!!!

  3. #3
    Champion Rex Messup's Avatar
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    Hodgson encapsulates the spirit we came to admire in the early days of the Force. An underdog punching above his weight and a never say die attitude. He has improved to become a very good and very valuable player who is underistimated by opponents.

    Go you good thing go

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    Controversy corner

  4. #4
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    He deserves it, there was a great piece in Inside Rugby Magzine a couple of years ago how Paly loved having him at the club and he loved playing for them.

    He didn't get a game with the Melbourne Rebels , but played in their Bundy Rum Cup , it must have hurt being behind Crofty and not getting a game

    But he has played some great Rugby in the last 18 months and like Browny, the Wallabies should be close this season!

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