Hodgson hopes ARU will come to the party

Oct 3, 2017 - 4:31 PM Former Wallaby Matt Hodgson is confident the Australian Rugby Union will give the new Indo Pacific Rugby Championship its tick of approval, with a decision to be made as early as next week.

The IPRC was launched by billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest last month in the wake of the Western Force's axing from the Super Rugby competition.

Forrest and the ARU were involved in a bitter slanging match while the Force's axing unfolded.

But peace has now been restored, with the ARU establishing a working group to help Forrest's team set up the new competition.

However, the ARU are yet to officially endorse the IPRC - a looming decision that could either make or break the new competition.

If the ARU don't endorse it, the IPRC would effectively become a rebel competition, meaning players who want to remain eligible for Wallabies selection won't be able to participate.

But Hodgson is confident the ARU will throw its support behind the IPRC, saying it's in the best interests of Australian rugby.

"Hopefully by next week we should have some things moving forward," Hodgson said.

"All the conversations we're having with the ARU are positive.

"We have to think what's best for rugby, and this is the best opportunity Australia has been offered in years. It's pretty exciting."

The new six-team competition has been dubbed the IPL of rugby.

It's set to be launched in August next year - after the Super Rugby season.

The Force are the only confirmed participant so far.

The remaining five teams could come out of countries like Japan, China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, and South Korea.

Hodgson has had hundreds of players contact him expressing an interest in joining the competition.

"I've had interest from internationals, and I've had interest from Australian players abroad wanting to come back," Hodgson said.

"And I've had interest from some players who were looking to go overseas next year, but now might stay in Australia to play in this."

Hodgson, who is the IPRC's director of sports relations, retired from Super Rugby ranks at the end of last season.

But the 36-year-old is so excited about this new competition, he is keen to pull on the boots again - as long as it doesn't hinder the chances of a local product coming up through the ranks.

Former Force coach Dave Wessels has been appointed the new head coach of the Melbourne Rebels.

But as part of his contract, he will be allowed to return to Perth to coach the Force in the IPRC competition.

Source: AAP

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