Wallabies winger Reece Hodge converts a penalty against the All Blacks in Wellington.
Wallabies winger Reece Hodge converts a penalty against the All Blacks in Wellington. ROSS SETFORD

Hodge keen to sink the boot into Springboks

RUGBY UNION: The Wallabies have revealed a new weapon for tomorrow night's Rugby Championship Test against South Africa at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

Wallaby winger Reece Hodge landed a booming 61-metre shot at goal in training during the week in the rarified high-altitude air in Pretoria.

Teammates knew he could boot the ball a long way, but the goal left them stunned.

In a Test that could be decided on penalty goals, having a super boot like the rookie in the side would be an advantage.

"I knew you guys would be asking me numbers (about the distance),” Hodge said to the media after finishing training at St Peter's College in Johannesburg.

"I'm not sure if it's a small field out there but at least 60m on the angle, so I'll see what happens when we go to Loftus.

"There was a bit of wind behind, so I can't count the whole altitude factor, but the kicks are definitely flying far.

"We want to score tries first and foremost, but it (a long-range shot) is something we can have in the back of our minds. If the opportunity comes, I'll step up.”

Hodge's goal brought to mind the 55m penalty goal Kurtley Beale kicked in 2010 to give the Wallabies a 41-39 win in Bloemfontein, their first at South Africa's high-altitude grounds.

Coach Michael Cheika has added Sean McMahon to the team at No.8, rewarding the 22-year-old for his improved lineout play and strong ball-carrying ability.

McMahon is prepared for a physical game from the huge Springboks.

"They are big boys,” he said. "If you don't step up someone is going to go right over the top of you.

"Cheik gets us to build on our strengths so I'm continuing to focus on the ball-running game I've brought to Super Rugby and my chances for Australia.”

McMahon, a Melbourne Rebels teammate of Hodge, said the Wallabies were intent on ending their 53-year winless run at Loftus Versfeld.

"Another opportunity to put on the gold jersey is going to be something special over here, especially in Pretoria, where no Australian team has won,” McMahon said.

"There's not a lot of chat (about the hoodoo). It's in the back of the mind like anything is.

"We want to continue to build on our last two games (wins over South Africa and Argentina).”

Fijian-born wing Sefa Naivalu, who became eligible for Australia on September 18, has been named as a replacement on an extended bench.

The Wallabies' record in South Africa isn't great with just 10 wins from 43 Tests and just three from their last 17 matches.



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