HKR Super League Heroes No18 – Josh Hodgson

Category: Heritage

HKR Super League Heroes No18 – Josh Hodgson

Josh Hodgson was born in Hull in October 1989 into a rugby league family, his father Dave having played briefly for Hull FC before concentrating on coaching at amateur level. Hodgson himself started in the game at East Hull ARLC, where he was coached by Lee Radford, joining the Hull FC Academy at 13.

Hodson represented England at under-17s and 18s level, and made a couple of appearances in Hull FCs’ first team in the back row in 2009. But he was fourth in line for the number 9 jersey at the KC, behind the likes of Shaun Berrigan and Danny Houghton. At the time, Dan Fitzhenry had decided to return to Australia, and Rovers coach Justin Morgan was looking for back-up to regular hooker Ben Fisher.

It was an easy decision for Hodgson, and one he never regretted. He joined Hull KR on a two-year contract, and made his first team debut at home to Wakefield in the sixth game of the 2010 season, at hooker between Aussie props Michael Vella and Joel Clinton. As second choice behind Fisher, he still racked up 20 appearances that season, mainly from the bench, and it was easy to see why Morgan had signed him. It was in 2011 that he established himself as Rovers first choice no 9, appearing in all 31 games and starting in 23 of them.

Hodgson’s progress was rapid. In 2012 he had a new challenger in Lincoln Withers, and was actually on the bench for the first three games, before a solitary appearance at no 9 was followed by six successive games in the back row. He scored four tries in these games, but after the last of them, a 30-6 defeat at the KC, he was left out of the squad for one game. After that, he quickly reclaimed the no 9 jersey, and was first choice in that in that position for the remainder of his time with the club.

Hodgson’s performances caught the eye of St Helens’ coach Nathan Brown, and he recommended him to Ricky Stuart at the Canberra Raiders. Stuart watched Hodgson in a few Super League games and liked his work ethic and competitive streak, seeing something of himself in the young player. He made enquiries, found out that Hodgson was interested in the NRL, and signed him up on a two-year contract for 2015.

In all, Hodgson played in 134 games for the Robins, scoring 35 tries. From the start of 2011 to the end of the 2014 season, he missed only three games. In 2012, he was named the club’s Player of the Year, also winning the Players’ Player award, which he won again the following season. Hodgson was named as co-captain alongside Travis Burns in 2014, in which season he started in every game.

Making his début against Cronulla Sharks in March 2015, Hodgson made 24 NRL appearances in 2015 season, scoring a game-winning golden point try against Parramatta Eels. In 2016 he helped the Raiders to their first top-two finish in over 20 years, and he experienced the NRL finals play-offs for the first time, producing an outstanding performance in a semi-final win over Penrith. He was a front-runner to win the Dally M Medal until a suspension cost him late in the season. In 2018, for the first time in his career, injury put him out for an extended spell, a serious knee injury sustained in an England World Cup game, and he missed the first 14 games of the season. In 2019, Hodgson was appointed co-captain for Canberra and made 24 appearances as the club reached their first grand final in 25 years, ultimately losing to the Sydney Roosters.

At international level, Hodgson was called up by the England Knights in 2012, being made captain of the side the following year. He was selected for the England squad for the 2014 Four Nations tournament  in Australia and made his début in the opening game against Samoa. He was selected in squad for the 2019 Great Britain Lions tour of the Southern Hemisphere and made his Great Britain test debut in the defeat by Tonga. To date, he has won 22 full international caps with England and Great Britain.

By his own admission, as a youngster, Hodgson was ‘never the most naturally gifted’ – his elder brother Nathan, who tragically died 18 months ago, was always far more talented and looked destined for the top. But Josh always had the determination and belief to make it as a professional rugby league player, and quickly worked out that ‘talent is good; but hard work has no substitute’. He worked really hard on all parts of his game, as a result of which he has a top class ‘all-rounder’ with no real weakness to his game – far more than the ‘stock standard, steady player’ that he had thought he would be. He has a variety to his game from acting half – he can go himself, run and pass, or kick – and of course he can more than hold his own in defence.

At both Rovers and the Raiders, his determination, commitment and sheer hard work have endeared him to club followers. It is a testament to the relationship he built with his fellow players and the supporters at Craven Park that his popularity has endured, and many still follow his career from the other side of the world. For Hodgson, whilst he is really happy with life in Australia, as a supporter, Rovers is still his number one club.

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