CANOWINDRA’S Haydon Hodge will tread a path forged by some of rugby league’s most famous names after being named in the prestigious Australian Schoolboys side last week.
The 17-year-old starred at fullback for ACT in last week’s Australian Secondary Schools Open Championships at Newcastle, culminating with a stunning five-try haul in his side’s final match against Combined Affiliated States.
Hodge, whose rapid rise to prominence has seen him progress from the Canberra Raiders’ SG Ball side to the Toyota Cup this year, was rapt to be selected on the wing for the green and golds.
He says it will be a “special” moment to represent his country in two Test matches against the Great Britain Community Lions next month.
“I can’t wait. It will be pretty special to pull on that jersey,” said Hodge, who moved from Canowindra to Canberra this year to further his rugby league education at the renowned league nursery Erindale College.
“It was a bit of a surprise to get selected because my first three games I didn’t think I’d played that well. I didn’t play badly, just not well enough to get picked in a team like this.
“To finish off with five tries in the one game, that obviously helped me out a fair bit.”
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The Year 12 student will follow in the footsteps of players such as Brad Fittler, Ben Elias, Israel Folau, Greg Inglis, Jamal Idris and Michael Jennings after playing all of his junior league for the Canowindra Tigers, before linking with Cowra to play under 18s last season.
Hodge continues a proud recent Central West tradition in the Australian Schoolboys, with Parramatta five-eighth Daniel Mortimer from Orange excelling in the NRL in recent weeks after representing the green and golds in 2007.
It’s a path Hodge, a 2008 Country under 18s representative, says he would love to follow.
“Definitely. That’s the goal and something like this is good for that,” said Hodge, the only ACT player to make the team.
“I’m signed with the Raiders until the end of next year. At the moment we’re going pretty well in the 20s, so hopefully (we can defend last year’s premiership).”
Gold Coast Titans youngster Jordan Rankin, who made his NRL debut last year at the age of 16, will lead the Aussies into battle against Great Britain on Saturday, August 15 at Canberra Stadium and Friday, August 21 at St Mary’s Leagues Stadium.
2009 AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLBOYS: 1 Maipele Morseu (St Brendan’s College, Yeppoon), 2 Haydon Hodge (Erindale College), 3 Aaron Whitchurch (Wavell State High School), 4 Cheyse Blair (Tweed River High School), 5 Faleula Fimau (Matraville Sports High School), 6 Jordan Rankin (Palm Beach Currumbin SHS), 7 Jacob Miller (Matraville Sports High School), 8 Jake Finn (Hunter Sports High School), 9 Cameron King (Endeavour Sports High School), 10 Matthew Groat (St Gregory’s College, Campbelltown), 11 Ryan James (Palm Beach Currumbin SHS), 12 Jack Stockwell (St Gregory’s College, Campbelltown), 13 Joseph Leilua (Endeavour Sports High School). Interchange: 14 PJ Asiata (Patrician Brothers College, Blacktown), 15 Daniel Ahsin (Endeavour Sports High School), 16 Jason Taumalolo (Kirwan State High School), 17 Michael Morgan (Ignatius Park College).