I’ve got a joke for you.
Q: How do you know that Reece Hodge is a virgin?
A: He could never get anybody out of their draws.
A few bad jokes at his expense aside, any reasonable Wallabies fan will only consider his trifecta of near match-winning penalty goal attempts this season, to be only a blip on the career of a bloody fantastic player from whom we have yet to enjoy his best.
Hodge’s Super Rugby debut against the Western Force in 2016 is one of those games that is scorched into my memory, with Hodge starting at fullback but shifting to the wing then flyhalf to cover injuries within the first half.
Hodge scored 20 of the Rebels’ 25 points including two tries and one of his enormous penalty goals.
Anybody who watched that game immediately knew that the 21 year old, who had come from obscurity playing for Manly in the Shute Shield, had a gold jersey waiting with his name on it and a big future in Australian rugby.
During the first five seasons of Hodge’s career he has been a pleasure for fans to follow, being a genuine team man who has played his role across all five positions in the Wallabies back line and filling in on the bench when needed.
He has universally won praise from coaches and commentators for his hard work and professionalism, including from Steve Hansen who doesn’t dish out complements to Australians lightly.
What is important to remember from Reece Hodge’s 2020 season is that were it not for his three missed penalty kicks, his season would be defined as the one where as the Wallabies fourth choice flyhalf in only his second international game in that position, he steered the Wallabies to their first victory over the All Blacks under Dave Rennie.
It is just another instance in the past five years where this bloke has shown himself to be one of the most versatile and valuable players in the country, with those being the sort of memories that his fans will treasure.
It also marks the season where Hodge has finally been allowed to start in the Wallabies in what many consider to be the position that he and his enormous boot were made for, fullback.
Perhaps with the inevitable movement of players overseas this year and the reintroduction of the Western Force into Super Rugby, Rugby Australia can work something out with the Rebels, to ensure that he is played and fully developed in that position?
What we do know is that whatever position Reece Hodge ends up playing, he is the sort of bloke who will not leave a stone unturned to correct the error that had him missing those three kicks. They were all just off to the right, so being a repeated error should be more fixable than if they were all over the place.
I reckon that Hodge’s long-range kicking will be back on target by next year, well and truly in time for him to be the good news story of the season, with the long range penalty kick that wins Australia back the Bledisloe Cup, in the 20th season since an Australian last lifted that piece of silverware.
No pressure Hodgey.