MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Lock Izack Rodda said he has brought more aggression and physicality back to Australia from his year-long stint in France and hopes to unleash both against the All Blacks in their Rugby Championship test in Perth on Sunday.
Rodda could play his first test since the 2019 World Cup following lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto’s departure from the Wallabies camp to be with his partner for the birth of their child.
“Since being in France … I’ve learned a lot more about physicality in the game and probably more of an aggressive side of the game for a lock,” Rodda told reporters in a video call on Tuesday.
“So that’s probably what I would be able to bring back now after being in France — stuff around the breakdown and ball-carrier, which I thought were my weaker points before I left.”
Rodda played 25 tests under former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and was expected to play a big role in Dave Rennie’s maiden squad last year.
However, he and two other Queensland Reds team mates tore up their Super Rugby contracts and left Australia after refusing pay-cuts that had been agreed by the players union to prop up the domestic game when the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year.
Rodda’s stint with Lyon in France’s Top 14 proved a short one, and he signed with Perth-based Super Rugby side Western Force in March for the 2022 season.
News of the 25-year-old’s return to Australia was viewed dimly by Reds coach Brad Thorn, who said the lock was “having (his) cake and eating it” by getting another Super Rugby deal after his lucrative contract overseas.
Rodda admitted he was surprised to be back in the selection frame so quickly as Australia look to rebound in Perth after back-to-back defeats to the All Blacks at Eden Park.
“I didn’t expect it to happen this quick at all, just thought I’d be in Perth for the next six months,” he said.
“But it’s why I’m back, it’s a dream of mine to represent the Wallabies.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)