Wallabies sweating Hodge hit as further changes loom

TOKYO -- Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is set to consider a number of changes to the team that beat Fiji in Australia's Rugby World Cup opener on Saturday, but he may be forced into one straight out of the gate for next Sunday's clash with Wales.

While the Wallabies reported a clean bill of health -- a somewhat amazing result given the furious physicality with which the Fijians played across the first half -- they face an anxious wait over the availability of winger Reece Hodge.

The Rebels star was in the thick of the action from the outset as he was twice trampled by Fijian ball-runners, before he changed tact and went in high on barnstorming back-rower Peceli Yato when the Fijian bolted down the sideline from a short lineout move in the 26th minute.

Hodge careered in at Yato's chest, seemingly catching the Fijian with his shoulder, while there appeared to be little wrapping of the Australian's arm. Yato was sent for an HIA as a result and wouldn't return, leaving the Fijians without their best player -- from the opening quarter -- for the match's remaining 54 minutes.

Hodge went on to score a vital try for the Wallabies just before halftime and later landed a settling second-half penalty goal.

Fiji captain Dominiko Waqaniburotukula revealed Fiji had, immediately after the incident, "referred it to the ref and he said he didn't see anything," while coach John McKee said he was yet to speak with the TMO when addressing the incident at the post-match media conference.

World Rugby announced a statement on Sunday, however, to say that Hodge had been cited "for an act of foul play contrary to Law 9.13 [dangerous tackle] ".

Hodge will attend a hearing before an independent judicial committee chaired by Nigel Hampton, QC, from New Zealand, former Scotland coach Frank Hadden and Argentine former referee José Luis Rolandi. The hearing will take place in Tokyo, with the date and time to be confirmed.

Dane Haylett-Petty would likely be Hodge's replacement should any suspension follow while veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper could also slot onto the wing.

Cheika is however already mulling changes for the Wallabies' game against Wales, for which his troops, thankfully, will have an extra day's preparation up their sleeve before that game.

"I think I like them interchanging this time around, you know?" he said.

"It's so even around those [selection] contests. They can all do different jobs, sometimes starting, sometimes finishing.

"When you've got those types of contests, that's what we want."

Several other backline changes could follow Hodge's potential ban while Cheika may need to re-evaluate his back-row composition after the Wallabies struggled against the massive Fijian pack in the opening stages in Sapporo.