Hodgson's new role in Raiders coaching rank
Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart may have lost a world class rake, but he's gained a useful right hand man with injured hooker Josh Hodgson a constant on-field presence during ball-work sessions in the nation's capital.
Hodgson's ACL rupture at last year's World Cup leaves the Raiders without their most influential player until at least midway through their 2018 campaign.
Off-season recruit Siliva Havili was given first crack at the No.9 jumper in Sunday's round one loss against the Gold Coast Titans, however regular halfback Aidan Sezer spent the majority of the match playing at dummy-half for the first time at any level in his career.
The combination showed some promise for the Raiders despite their surrendering of an 18-point half-time lead, with Havili bagging an opening try and Sezer's kicking game an added advantage around the ruck.
Sezer told NRL.com afterwards that while playing hooker is not his first preference, he was more than happy to keep shouldering the load as Havili is brought on at first grade level.
Hodgson will always be a notable absentee over the next few months, but he's made sure he's front and centre at training for the past two months, helping Stuart run the side's offence and bring his hooking options up to speed.
"He's pretty much another coach at training, not only to us as dummy-halves, but the whole team in general actually," Havili told NRL.com.
"As a leader, that's what he does. The boys give him stick and ask him if he's got his coaching certificate and that because he's always out there on the paddock adding his voice to the mix and trying to help however he can.
"Josh is a world class hooker and even though his injury was unfortunate, it does give us an opportunity to learn from him in a different way and learn his game a bit.
"He's teaching myself and Garvs about some little things at dummy-half. A few little tactics around the ruck and what he uses and does."
For his part, Hodgson is organising his recovery effort with rehabilitation coach Ryan Clayton around the Raiders ball work sessions.
Having started running again in late January, the English international is targeting an NRL return around July.
That would have him ahead of schedule but so far Hodgson has made every post a winner in his recovery, as he revealed last week in the club's Behind the Limelight podcast that he had set a new personal best "on one leg" in a recent 1.2 kilometre time trial.
As for his unofficial coaching duties, the 28-year-old says he gets just as much out of his hands on involvement at training as his teammates.
"I think it's important I'm there for all the field sessions so I know what's working for the boys, I know what's not," Hodgson said.
"And I can keep up with where they've changed things, fine-tuned things so that when I come into the side, I'm not making errors and then I'm right on top of what they want to do and what game plan we're going with.
"I think it's important that I'm out there and making sure I know it all.
"Not only that, but it's good to be out there and feel a part of the team. I probably spend more time out there than I would normally actually."