Jersey flanker makes Super Rugby debut03/06/2014
While his Jersey team-mates have been resting and recuperating after a long season, flanker Ryan Hodson has been in action against All Black stars like Kieran Read and Richie McCaw.
Ryan (pictured above), who joined Jersey at the end of February this year, was temporarily released by Head Coach Harvey Biljon during May to provide cover for Western Force, the Super Rugby side based in his native Perth, Western Australia.
After travelling from Jersey to South Africa in early May, Ryan joined the Force squad prior to matches against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein and the Stormers in Cape Town. He then headed back to Perth for the home game against another South African team, the Lions.
Having not quite managed to make the match-day squad for the first three games, the 24-year-old was then part of the touring Force squad who headed to the South Island of New Zealand for the match against the Christchurch-based Crusaders.
Coach Michael Foley selected Ryan among the Force replacements for last Friday's game at Lancaster Park, now known as AMI Stadium, and in the closing stages of the game he was called on to make his Super Rugby debut.
Ryan replaced number 8 Angus Cottrell, and faced a Crusaders back row made up of 100% All Blacks: McCaw, Read and replacement Luke Whitelock, whose brothers Sam and Adam were also on the field. Big names such as Israel Dagg and Andrew Ellis had also been in the Canterbury line-up before being replaced earlier in the game.
The Crusaders, third of 15 teams in the current Super Rugby rankings, won the match 30-7 although were denied a try bonus point by determined Force defence. The Australian side still have a chance of making the end-of-season play-offs, lying seventh in the table with three games remaining.
Super Rugby now has a four-week break for the June international window. While McCaw (pictured above) and his All Blacks colleagues await the three-match series against England, Ryan will return to Europe later in the month to join his Jersey team-mates in preparing for the 2014-15 season in the Greene King IPA Championship.
Biljon explained: "Although the majority of our squad needed rest after a long season, Ryan hadn't played much rugby until his Jersey debut in March [he made seven appearances for the Islanders thereafter], so he was well-placed to provide cover to the Force. In the circumstances I was happy to release him for a month, and it's a great accolade that he was selected for his Super Rugby debut."