Hodgson set for milestone match
May 9, 2013
Western Force flanker Matt Hodgson has won two Player of the Year awards © Getty Images
Flanker Matt Hodgson will lead the side in a record 93rd Super Rugby appearance for Western Force against the Chiefs in Pukekohe on Friday night, eclipsing the previous record held by inaugural captain Nathan Sharpe (92 caps).
Hodgson, who took over the captaincy this season, was a member of the Force's foundation side in 2006 and has been an unrelenting performer for the Western Australian side, recognised by his two Player of the Year Awards for the club (2009, 2010) and three Force Man gongs (2006, 2007, 2010).
"As a team, we're all thrilled for Hodgo," Foley said. "He is someone who is respected throughout the entire Force family. His hard work and commitment to the club is recognised within the team and by our staff and supporters. I'm certain the boys will be keen to do their bit to make it a memorable occasion for him tomorrow night."
Wallabies scrum-half Brett Sheehan will complete a successful return from injury when he joins the Force's starting line-up. Sheehan made his nib Stadium homecoming off the bench in the Force's 11-all draw with Queensland Reds last weekend after recovering from an ankle injury suffered in the Wallabies' 22-19 win over Italy in November.
The 33-year-old, who will play his 90th Super Rugby match this week, will run on for star recruit Alby Mathewson, who has been named on the replacements list after starting in each of the Force's 11 Super Rugby fixtures in 2013.
The other change to the starting XV sees Jayden Hayward return to fullback, where he has started on three occasions this season.
Coach Michael Foley says it's important his side builds on its character-defining performance against the Reds.
"Our performance versus the Reds can be directly attributed to the squad's hard work and desire to play for each other and our supporters," he said. "Being able to repeat good performances is something every team aspires to and I believe the boys are taking important steps towards achieving consistency through the high standards they're setting and expecting of each other."
Foley added that Friday presents a good test for his side against the New Zealand conference front-runners.
"The Chiefs are the reigning Super Rugby champions and we see the match on Friday night as an exciting challenge," he said. "We will need to reproduce the same guts we showed in defence against the Reds as well as ensuring our decision-making, work rate and accuracy with the ball allows us to build consistent pressure on the Chiefs. We're in a fortunate position to have depth at nine, with Alby, Brett and Mick Snowden, and having Brett return to the field last week allows us to use two internationals as part of our match squad against the Chiefs."
Western Force: Jayden Hayward; Patrick Dellit, Ben Jacobs, Kyle Godwin, Nick Cummins; Sias Ebersohn, Brett Sheehan; Ben McCalman, Chris Alcock, Matt Hodgson (captain); Sam Wykes, Toby Lynn; Kieran Longbottom, Heath Tessmann, Pek Cowan. Replacements: James Hilterbrand, Tetera Faulkner, Rory Walton, Richard Brown, Alby Mathewson, Junior Rasolea, Sam Norton-Knight.
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