Reece Hodge’s career has been on a meteoric trajectory but his landing place is locked in until at least the end of the 2020 Super Rugby season with the Melbourne Rebels.
The utility back made his Rebels debut last year but went on to play 10 Tests for the Wallabies as well as 12 appearances with Melbourne, scoring nine tries.
The 22-year-old has become the first Australian player to commit beyond the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Hodge said he wanted to repay the club for giving him his first crack at Super Rugby.
“They gave me my first shot at professional rugby and it’s been an awesome bunch of players and coaching staff so it was a pretty easy decision in the end,” Hodge said.
“I’m grateful they put their faith in me and 2019 is the goal but it’s awesome to be sticking around Melbourne for that long.”
Aiming to lock in his role at inside centre, Hodge felt confident Melbourne had the stocks to improve on their third placing in the Australian conference and crack an elusive Super finals berth.
They had two losses in their trials against the Western Force and Queensland but Hodge felt they were tracking well.
“We are building for a great season; we’ve had a couple of tough results in the trials but it was good to get out there.
“We are building well for round one because, if you look at the Reds game, our structure was a lot better than in the Force game.”
The Rebels were rocked on Thursday by news their top prop Toby Smith would be sidelined for 12 weeks after undergoing hamstring surgery.
The news was better for Melbourne NRL convert Marika Koroibete, who is pencilled in for the Rebels’ season opener next Thursday against the Blues at AAMI Park after missing all the lead-up games with a knee injury.