MLR expansion Jackals name Aussie Hodge as first coach

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It's a championship celebration like this one by 2021 the Major League Rugby champion Los Angeles Giltinis that Australian Michael Hodge hopes to see one day in his new job as coach of the MLR expansion Dallas Jackals (AFP/KEVORK DJANSEZIAN)
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Michael Hodge, a former Australian rugby sevens national team player and Sydney University standout, was named Friday as coach of the expansion Dallas Jackals of Major League Rugby.

The 32-year-old from Canberra, who had been the Sydney school's head of high performance, will guide MLR's 13th club into its debut campaign at the top level of North American rugby union play.

"I'm incredibly grateful to have been given this opportunity," Hodge said. "The challenge ahead is an exciting one.

"We have a unique opportunity to start something new and I hope we can inspire the next generation of rugby players and engage plenty of new rugby fans along the way."

He'll be trying to make a success of the club on and off the field in Texas, known as a hotbed of American football, with Dallas the home of the NFL Cowboys.

"With our aims to play an entertaining style of rugby and develop domestic talent, we set out to find a coach who was people first in his approach, passionate about facilitating an environment to learn and has a desire to do this through modified game play," Jackals general manager Elaine Vassie said.

"Michael stood out as someone who thinks of the whole person first and is excited by the prospect of this truly being a coaching role which promotes a journey where we invest in people, not a week to week process."

The Jackals' 2022 debut season is expected to launch in March.

"There's still plenty more to be done before the 2022 season," Hodge said. "I can't wait to get to Texas and get started."