It's a Rebel yell - Hodge stays for three more years
MELBOURNE Rebels rising star Reece Hodge says he has the perfect way to combat the dreaded second-year blues.
Just don't think about it.
His club obviously has no concerns about the 22-year-old's ability to continue his sharp upward curve, signing him to a three-year contract extension.
The new deal ties Hodge to the Rebels until the end of the 2020 season, which is the longest deal currently in place for any Wallabies player.
The extension was announced on Thursday at Melbourne's Super Rugby season launch at Crown.
Hodge compiled a stunning debut season in 2016, playing 12 games for the Rebels and scoring a club record nine tries before also becoming a Wallabies regular, winning 10 Test caps.
He was also named the Super Rugby rookie of the year.
The versatile backline player isn't one for stressing too much about external expectations.
And while he knows the focus on him will be greater in 2017, Hodge isn't getting too caught up in the hype heading in to next week's season opener against the Blues at AAMI Park.
"I don't really have any expectations on myself," Hodge said.
"I've really just got to start again. I know it's a cliche but in my case it really is true.
"I've got to re-earn selection week-to-week with the Rebels and then try to get that opportunity again with the Rebels.
"I'm not resting on any laurels from last year.
"I'll be working just as hard week-to-week on extras and individual skills to prepare as well as I can for each game.
Hodge scores a try for the Rebels against the Waikato Chiefs in the Melbourne Rebels Rugby Tens clash in Brisbane at the weekend. Picture: AAP
"I don't have a crystal ball. I can't say it's going to go as well as it did last year. But hopefully if I put in the preparation, get my body right and stay good on the mental side of things as well that it'll work out."
While confident in his abilities, the Manly product insists he was caught by surprise by his rapid development in 2016.
"It was a bit unexpected and was a bit of a weird year going up from level to level," he said.
"But I really enjoyed it and hopefully this year I can keep going.
"The Rebels atmosphere and culture - and the fact that I got an opportunity from the start - really helped me.
"The guys around me make it easy to play. There wasn't too much pressure. I just backed my skills and got a bit lucky."