Western Force captain Matt Hodgson is set to miss the remainder of the Super Rugby season after dislocating a shoulder in Saturday night’s nail-biting loss to the Blues.
The Force fought back from a 17-3 first half deficit to hold the Blues scoreless after half-time at Perth’s nib Stadium but couldn’t quite capitalise on their dominance in the second half by scoring the go-ahead try to lose by four.
That leaves them with just two wins from 11 games in 2016 ahead of a clash with the Melbourne Rebels away next Sunday.
With Peter Grant, Jono Lance, Chris Alcock and Nathan Charles already sidelined through injury, inspirational captain Hodgson isn’t expected to play again this year.
The 34-year-old scored his team’s only try against the Blues and while yet to confirm he will play on in 2017, he has an extension option in his contract he is expected to execute.
Coach Michael Foley is confident he has other leaders now capable of stepping up.
“Hodgo’s got a dislocated shoulder and at this point in time he’ll get a scan, but there’s a reasonable chance he won’t play again this year,” Foley said.
“That’s a real kick in the guts for us but there’s an opportunity there for other guys who have been leaders in the team for a long period of time to step up and fill those pretty big shoes.
“Without a doubt our players will want to deliver for Matt in the last games of the season next week in Melbourne, and the final three in Bloemfontein, at home and then across in Canberra.”
One of those leaders is scrumhalf Alby Mathewson and he is keen to make his captain proud as he watches on from the sidelines for the last four games of 2016.
“It’s a big void to fill with Hodgo not there, but we’ve got a good core leadership around him with guys like Dane (Haylett-Petty) who have stepped up with leadership as well as his outstanding play on the field,” Mathewson said.
“There’s also Adam Coleman and Pek (Cowan) who has been here since day one. The guys really play for Hodgo and he’s a great guy who gives everything on the field.
“It’s going to lift the boys to make him proud and put good efforts out on the field. Everyone will step up right across the board. It is a challenge but we are all looking forward to it.”
The Force also lost halfbacks Ian Prior and Luke Burton to knee and foot injuries respectively, but Foley is hopeful both will be fit to play the Rebels.