England and Canberra Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson is Hull born and raised and admits he couldn’t contain his excitement when he found out the first game of the 2015 International Series would be in his hometown. Now he is aiming for selection for the opportunity to play against New Zealand at the KC Stadium this Sunday (5.00pm).
The 25-year-old grew up in Bilton and began his career at local side East Hull. He followed in his father’s footsteps into professional Rugby League and made his debut for Hull FC in 2009. Hodgson switched the black and white for the red and white of the city in 2010 and went on to play over 130 games for Hull Kingston Rovers becoming a fans’ favourite during his time there.
“It’s a boyhood dream to be representing your country in your hometown. A lot of people don’t get this chance and hopefully I get selected on Sunday,” said Hodgson.
“You can tell how important Rugby League is to the city of Hull by looking at the number of teams there are in the community leagues through to Super League.
“When I first saw the fixtures and venues announced I was over the moon to see Hull as the first game. I’m now hoping I make that 17-man team and be successful in front of a home crowd. I haven’t had many cheers from fans in West Hull at the KC Stadium, but fingers crossed if I get the chance on Sunday I’ll get a few playing for England.
Although Hodgson now resides in the Australian capital of Canberra and plays in the NRL, his memories of growing up around the game in Hull still bring a smile to his face.
“I used to be a ball boy at Hull FC and loved going to the Boulevard watching players like Matt Crowther who is now part of the England physio team. It’s little things like that that stick with you,” said Hodgson.
“Lee Radford (Hull FC coach) was my amateur coach when I was younger and I used to enjoy watching him make appearances at international level. These experiences give you someone to look up to and aspire to be.”
The Raiders hooker made his debut against Cronulla Sharks in March 2015 and went on to appear 24 times in his first year Down Under. Hodgson, along with a handful of other players in the England squad, has an idea of what to expect from the Kiwi team having faced a few of their players in the NRL already.
“We know these games are going to be tough. Certainly when I played for Canberra against New Zealand Warriors we knew it would be physical,” he said.
“Our forwards will have to do a massive job and have great impact. As a country I believe we’re blessed with a talented pack who can stick to the game plan and match what’s in front of them.
“England are a fantastic side who can beat anybody. As a team we’ve come on leaps and bounds and every time we meet up the start of the sessions and camps are getting smoother and smoother. This year has been one of the best and you could tell by Saturday’s performance.”
The three-game series against New Zealand starts at the KC Stadium, Hull on Sunday November 1 (5.00pm) moving on to The Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London on Saturday November 7 (2.30pm). The series concludes at the DW Stadium, Wigan on Saturday November 14 (1.00pm).
Story first appeared on www.englandrl.co.uk