Hodgson set for Barbarians in Jones' Western Force homage

Matt Hodgson Paul Kane/Getty Images

Retired Western Force skipper Matt Hodgson is set to join Quade Cooper in Alan Jones' Barbarians squad to face the Wallabies in Sydney at the end of the month.

And the Barbarians side will pay homage to the Force, who have been banished from Super Rugby, by donning the doomed franchise's socks instead of the usual tradition in which players wear the colours of their individual club.

As the Senate inquiry continues into the Australian Rugby Union's handling of Super Rugby's reduction to 15 teams, Jones told ESPN of his desire to remind Force players "they matter".

Originally cagey in who would join Cooper in the black and white come October 28, Jones did confirm Hodgson's place and the Grand Slam-winning coach remains hopeful of securing a number of fringe Wallabies, too.

In an ironic twist, Hodgson captained the Wallabies when they last faced the Barbarians in 2014, a game that was Michael Cheika's first as Australia coach.

"I will tell you one thing, I want Matt Hodgson playing and he will play," Jones told ESPN. "And I'd like to think that young players like Billy Meakes, and those sorts of players, will get a Guernsey...but whether Michael [Cheika] now is going to say 'well, now I might pull him back'. So this has been a very difficult process I can assure you."

Jones on Friday confirmed the majority of his squad, with Meakes deemed unavailable, but there were several other big inclusions including Brumbies captain Sam Carter, former Springboks and Waratahs lock Jacques Potgieter and All Blacks centre George Moala.

As is always the case with Barbarians sides, bringing a team together from a number of different clubs in less than a week won't be easy. But Jones plans to keep things relatively simple, which is one of the reasons he pushed hard for Cooper to play -- a move he says was cleared back as early as Bledisloe I.

"Now I know there was a lot of publicity last week about Quade and Quade mightn't be released and so on; now I would never choose a Wallaby without discussing it first with the Wallaby coach. That wouldn't be proper," Jones told ESPN.

"I discussed this with Michael on the eve of that last Bledisloe Cup Test here [in Sydney] and he indicated to me that Quade would be free and therefore I rang Quade and so on. So I don't know what all that hoopla was about. But there are other people in his [Cheika's] squad [that could play].

"Now it may well be that with his big match against the All Blacks on the Saturday previous and another match [Japan in Tokyo] which I sure think he could do without, after he plays us, that he [Cheika] may sort of rearrange things there and therefore there will be some players that we won't have. But I'm hopeful of giving young players a real chance."

The match between the Wallabies and Barbarians at Allianz Stadium has been dubbed "your match" with fans earlier this year picking the kick-off time among several other polls. Jones hoped the afternoon encounter would inspire some positivity for rugby in Australia after a turbulent year off the field, headed by the Force's dumping from Super Rugby.

"[It has been] a disgraceful year, and it continues to be disgraceful," Jones told ESPN. "And we've got a senate inquiry here, it's clear that the ARU poured money into the Rebels; Western Force were one of the most successful Australian provincial sides [in 2017], they have grown the game enormously in W.A. [and] you couldn't mount an honest argument to get rid of Western Force when in fact a billionaire [Andrew Forrest] then entered the field with money.

"The Australian Rugby Union is in a mess; they, like the political life in Australia, the leaders have created the problem. The honourable thing for them to do would be to go, get out of the road and give someone else a chance to turn this thing around.

"We're short of money, there's no motivational leadership coming from these people...this Senate inquiry is not going to be attractive, it's not going to benefit Australian rugby. And there are still no answers to the problems that exist, and you've still got to make the turnstiles turn."

Barbarians squad: Anaru Rangi, Andrew Ready, Augustine Pulu, Chance Peni, Eto Nabuli, George Moala, Isi Naisarani, Jacques Potgieter, Kane Koteka, Luke Jones, Matt Hodgson, Matt Phillip, Michael Ruru, Pek Cowan, Quade Cooper, Richard Arnold, Sam Carter, Sam Greene, Sam Ward, Taniela Tupou, Taqele Naiyaravaro, Theo Strang, Tim Nanai-Williams, Tom Banks. [players still to be added]