Force's captain courageous

Tue, 25 Mar 2014 10:38
Large matt hodgson signs for fan
Matt Hodgson has been at the club since their inception, meaning he has experienced plenty of lows over the past eight years but things are starting to look up in Perth.
Matt Hodgson has been at the club since their inception, meaning he has experienced plenty of lows over the past eight years but things are starting to look up in Perth.
He was there when the Firepower collapse cost players six-figure sums.
He experienced the 2008 player revolt against then-coach John Mitchell and the subsequent departure of a host of stars.
And then there's been the woeful on-field fortunes - eight straight years without a finals berth.
But 2014 is shaping as a turning point for the Perth-based franchise, with a three-game winning streak lifting the Force to within two points of third spot.
Hodgson, in his second season as captain, has played a key role in the Force's resurgence this season.
His two tries were vital in the 18-15 win over the Chiefs, but it's his bone-crunching work at the breakdown that lifts his teammates the most.
Hodgson is often bashed and bruised after games, and it's not uncommon for him to have blood oozing out from various places during post-match interviews.
Coach Michael Foley has only been at franchise for 19 months, but it didn't take him long to figure out just how important Hodgson was to the set-up.
"He means everything to the side," Foley said.
"He's been here from day one and he's had to go through difficult times, but he just keeps standing up. He perseveres.
"If you think about what he's stood for in the nine-year history of the club, and you see some of the things happening on the field, he's a shining example.
"He's probably the main reason why some of that stuff happens."
The Force will use this week's bye to freshen up their battered bodies.
Last week's gutsy win over the Chiefs came at a major cost, with lock Hugh McMeniman set to miss at least a month of rugby after breaking his collarbone.
But scrumhalf Alby Mathewson will be free to help the side chase a franchise-record fourth straight win next week against the Queensland Reds after escaping with a one-week ban for trampling an opponent.
In-form No.8 Ben McCalman will also front up against the Reds after serving his ban for a dangerous tackle. 
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Brumbies 15 10 0 5 43
Waratahs 15 8 0 7 40
Rebels 15 7 0 8 31
Reds 15 3 1 11 17
Force 15 2 0 13 13
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Highlanders 15 11 0 4 52
Chiefs 15 11 0 4 51
Crusaders 15 11 0 4 50
Blues 15 8 1 6 39
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 1 4 51
Bulls 15 9 1 5 42
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
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Pool SA2
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Lions 14 11 0 3 52
Sharks 15 9 1 5 43
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Kings 15 2 0 13 9