Hodge 'fantastic' at fly-half, says Cheika

Australia head coach Michael Cheika felt Reece Hodge did a "fantastic job" in his first appearance at fly-half as the Wallabies beat Japan 63-30 in Yokohama.

Although Rebels back Hodge had earned 20 Test caps prior to Saturday's match, he had never previously been used as a number 10 by his country.

Yet he was given a chance to shine in the position against the 2019 Rugby World Cup hosts, with Bernard Foley ruled out through illness and Kurtley Beale shifted from inside centre to full-back in Karmichael Hunt's absence.

"Reece wanted this opportunity. For a few months now, he's been preparing," said Cheika of Hodge, who kicked nine conversions from as many attempts.

"I thought Japan tested him with line speed many times and he made some good decisions. There's still a long way to go in that regard, but [it was] a great start for him in that number 10 jersey.

"I was very happy with his game. I thought he did a fantastic job."

Cheika was also satisfied with the overall performance of his team, who charged into a 35-3 lead by half-time before both sides scored freely in an action-packed second half.

"We've had a very big week," added the Wallabies coach. "We played a match against the Barbarians on Saturday and then we travelled on Tuesday night, to come to Japan.

"I think between the last game and this game we lost five or six players from our starting team. [There were] lots of changes, a brand-new number 10, but I thought our mindset and attitude was very good from the start.

"We dropped off a bit towards the end but I also thought Japan played very well. They were very committed and gave us a very big challenge.

"There was a fantastic atmosphere and crowd. It's a great place to play rugby, no doubt about it."

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