Wallaby Hodge ruled out of rest of Super Rugby AU due to knee injury

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Autumn Internationals - England vs Australia - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - November 18, 2017 Australia’s Reece Hodge scores a penalty kick REUTERS/Hannah McKay

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia utility back Reece Hodge has been ruled out of the remainder of the Melbourne Rebels' Super Rugby campaign with a knee injury and is in a race to be fit for the Wallabies' July tests against France.

Hodge is expected to be sidelined for about 10 weeks after suffering a medial ligament injury in a tackle by Western Force flanker Tim Anstee while attempting a late drop-goal in Friday's 16-15 loss to the Western Force.

Hodge's injury is a big blow for the Rebels as they bid to secure the third and final spot in Super Rugby AU's playoffs with the already qualified Queensland Reds and ACT Brumbies.

The Rebels (2-4) are third in the table but only a point clear of the Perth-based Force ahead of hosting the Brumbies on Sunday in the penultimate round.

The Force host the winless New South Wales Waratahs on Saturday.

The Rebels hope long sidelined skipper Dane Haylett-Petty might be back to reinforce the side after a long battle with concussion symptoms.

Rebels coach Dave Wessels said Wallabies fullback Haylett-Petty would be tested at training on Tuesday as he bids to make his first appearance this season.

"Dane is a chance, which would be great for us," Wessels told Australian Associated Press.

"He's very keen to play; emotionally also he wants to be part of it now, he knows it's his time to step forward."

After losing three matches after the final siren this campaign, Wessels said the Rebels needed to be "tougher" on themselves about failing to execute in the big moments.

"We're not miles away -- we have our destiny in our own hands and the boys are still feeling pretty good about it," he added.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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