Melbourne based Super Rugby franchise the Rebels have signed reigning Rookie of the Year Reece Hodge on a long-term contract which will see him become the first Australian Rugby player to commit beyond the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
The Rebels made the announcement that the 22-year-old utility back has signed a three-year contract extension to remain in Melbourne until 2020 at their Season Launch.
“We have huge faith in Reece and see him as an important part of the club’s future so we’re thrilled that he’s agreed to call Melbourne home until 2020,” Melbourne Rebels General Manager Rugby Baden Stephenson said.
“Reece had a remarkable debut professional season in 2016, which is a testament to his talents and character, so we look forward to his continued significant contribution to the club and Rebels program.”
Hodge was named Super Rugby and Melbourne Rebels Rookie of the Year, along with the Australian Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) newcomer of the year, after he burst onto the scene with a club record nine tries from 12 appearances.
The utility back’s meteoric rise was capped off with two tries from 10 Wallabies appearances, including nine starts, following his international debut off the bench in the Bledisloe Cup against the All Blacks in Wellington.
“There were a few factors in the decision but the young tight knit playing group we have down here (in Melbourne) was definitely one of the reasons why I re-signed with the Rebels,” Hodge said.
“With such a young and talented squad, the potential to be a part of some long-term success with the Rebels, who gave me my first opportunity at professional rugby, is pretty exciting.”
Hodge said his goal of representing the Wallabies at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan was a motivation to remain in Australia.
“Being a part of the 2016 Wallabies squad with so many new faces felt like the start of our journey towards 2019 and it’s something that I really want to be a part of going forward,” Hodge said.
“I know it will take a lot of hard work and consistent form to get there but just to have the opportunity to be playing rugby in Australia and striving towards that goal of playing for the Wallabies at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan is awesome.”
The Rebels will kick off the 2017 Super Rugby season against the Blues at AAMI Park on Thursday 23 February.