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Hodge ready to face the All Blacks
April 4, 2000

Scotland hero Duncan Hodge put the memory of his broken leg heartbreak behind him yesterday and now he is ready to face New Zealand.

Barely 12 months ago, the Edinburgh Reivers stand-off was stretchered off at Murrayfield after breaking his left fibula in the second half of a stirring win against Wales.

On Sunday at the same venue, Hodge landed four penalties, a conversion and slid in for a second-half try to score all Scotland's points in their momentous 19-13 triumph over England.

After overcoming his injury, which came at a time when Hodge was starting to establish himself in the Scottish side, the player has been forced to sit patiently on the sidelines for an opportunity to impress.

It arrived when Gregor Townsend was moved into the centres against Wales a fortnight ago and this weekend Hodge remained calm in the face of unbelievable pressure and defied the elements to seal his reintroduction to the big time.

"To contribute to a victory like that just a year after breaking my leg makes me very proud," said Hodge.

"I have been goalkicking for the past seven or eight years and sometimes the pressure can affect you.

"You don't really hear the crowd, once the ball is on the tee you just focus on that and try not to let anything else in."

Hodge has rejected the current tendency to employ a coach to help him with his kicking, although Scotland team manager Dougie Morgan does offer some aid during international weeks.

Now, having cemented his place in the touring party to New Zealand this summer, Hodge can steel himself for the imposing challenge of the All Blacks.

"It is certainly not getting any easier for us," he smiled.

"Scotland have never beaten the All Blacks and though I have never toured there before, I can appreciate just how hard it is going to be.

"We have taken a lot of stick this season, and rightly so. But at least after Sunday we can approach the summer with a bit more confidence."

Coach Ian McGeechan confirmed he expects winger Cammie Murray to have recovered from his shoulder injury in time to make the trip.

However, former skipper Eric Peters, who has been making optimistic noises about his fitness, is not expected to be risked.

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