Confident Rodda on Road to Recovery with Force

Wallabies lock Izack Rodda finally feels the confidence returning to go full-tilt for the Western Force after a painstaking recovery from a foot injury. The towering forward’s second trial game of the pre-season on Thursday night in Brisbane was the final tick that he’ll be there for the kick-off of Super Rugby Pacific. The Force have plenty still to find on the training paddock after a disappointing 48-38 loss to the much-improved Fijian Drua in perfect conditions at Wests Rugby Club. Coming on top of a 45-10 trial loss to the Queensland Reds, the Force are well short of where they need to be for Round One against the Melbourne Rebels at Perth’s HBF Park on February 25. The broader view was Rodda playing nearly 50 minutes without incident, dominating the lineouts and two surges in the opening minutes to quickly get involved. His right foot still carries two screws from the surgery that wiped out any involvement in the Wallabies’ 14 Tests last year. “It’s getting there. It’s great to have had two hitouts,” a relaxed Rodda said post-game. “The foot still has a little ways to go but it’s good to get the body out there, feel it in the lungs and enjoy some footy again after a long break. “The foot is just getting used to the movements of rugby again and strengthening in the contact moments after a lot of straight line running in rehab.” Having an experienced 34-Test performer back in the mix in a World Cup year is a huge asset for the Wallabies and new coach Eddie Jones. “Through the whole five months or so of the very detailed return-to-play plan from my surgeon and physios, this year’s World Cup was at the forefront of my mind,” Rodda admitted. “Now the season is about to start, I’m very much staying in the present because I really have to perform at Super Rugby level for anything to happen.” Rodda struck up a good early connection with the throws of Force recruit Folau Fainga’a. One misfire from the hooker, sailing over the lineout, did give the dangerous Fijians a loose ball to turn into a first half try. Fainga’a limped off late in the first half with a sore right ankle which he strapped in ice for the rest of the evening. There was an encouraging start for top Force signing Chase Tiatia. The former Chiefs attacker started at fullback and threw a pinpoint cutout pass for the opening try to winger Zac Kibirige. Giant lock recruit Felix Kalupu, from New Zealand’s North Harbour, made some forceful ball-carries, veteran halfback Ian Prior threw a lovely wide ball for English centre Sam Spink’s late try and there was fight to score twice in the closing 10 minutes. Spink is a good pick-up and the yellow-and-black of the Force's alternative strip will have sat well with him because they are the colours of his English club Wasps. Hamish Stewart was a mixed bag at No.10. He made several clutch, low tackles but coughed up a ball when thumped himself. That turnover became a 60m counter-attack try for the Drua. The Drua were really the story of the night. They were far fitter, more confident in their organisation of play and less panic-prone than last season. You can see them challenging for wins against the five Australian Super Rugby sides, especially with new factors like sharp outside centre Iosefa Masi. The Tokyo Olympics rugby sevens gold medallist detoured via the North Queensland Cowboys last season when he played for the NRL club’s feeder team, Townsville Blackhawks. His footwork is dynamic and a show-and-go stalled the defence for the dash of speed that set up his own try.  Click Here: cheap gold coast titans jerseys

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