14th July 2018, 11:05 | englandrl

HOME & AWAY: with Josh Hodgson

HOME & AWAY: with Josh Hodgson

Canberra Raiders and England international hooker Josh Hodgson speaks to Steve Mascord following his return from injury.

rugby-league.com: What was it like to make your comeback from injury the week before the Denver Test and have to watch it on TV?

Josh Hodgson: “I did a thing over here for Fox. I did the commentary for them before the game and after the game. It was a bit of an early start, I had to be in the studio for half three, four in the morning. But I was getting up to watch the game anyway.

"I thought the boys did very well in tough conditions with the altitude and everything. When we kept hold of the ball, the boys played very well and I thought there were some great games from the blokes who made their debuts for their countries in Tommy Makinson and Jake Connor.”

RLC: You played the week before, making your comeback from injury. Technically, England could have picked you…

JH: “Yeah, I’d only played 45, 50 minutes the week before and the team had already been announced. Not only that, you’ve got to be playing well for rep footy, you can’t just come back and expect to be picked. I don’t think the club would have been against me going but I don’t think it would have been an ideal scenario. 

“It was probably the best decision all round with me only playing one game.”

 

RLC: What did your club-mate Elliott Whitehead say about the trip?

JH: “Yeah, he loved it. He said everything went really smoothly. I knew it would, with the staff we’ve got with England and how well they look after everything. I understand … I’m close with Clint Newton who’s on the RLPA. I spoke with him fairly regularly building up to the Denver Test and obviously they couldn’t quite come out and say that they supported the game as much as they supported aspects of the game.

"Newts and those blokes were all for developing aspects of the international game but in terms of player welfare there were a few ‘i’s and a few ’t’s that were not quite being dotted and crossed for them to give it quite the thumbs up.

"But in terms of the game itself and spreading it, they loved the idea. The more we do it, the more those ’t’s will get crossed going forward and the more support we’ll have from things like the RLPA, the NRL and people like that.”

 

RLC: Having said that, the NRL have put out a proposed programme for the next two years which expressly excludes Denver and invites New Zealand to compete in other matches at the same time…

JH: “I think that’s something the Kiwis would have to make a decision on. That’s nothing to do with us. Our priority is we play good opposition on a regular basis and get games under our belts. The mid-season Test, not only for us but for all nations, is really important - that you (play) together so you have the structures in place.

"The more games you play together, the better quality of footy you can be playing at the end of the year when international games are on. I think that would just single us out as a couple again and it’s something I hope doesn’t happen but if it does, we’ve got a tough team and we’re tough mentally and  we’ll deal with it and come up with something else.”

 

RLC: How much are you focused on the series against the Kiwis at the end of the year now?

JH: “It’s something I’m definitely thinking about. I’d love to get selected; the last time we did that was 2015 and we won so it would be great to do that again. Obviously first and foremost I’m concentrating on my form with Canberra.

"I’ve got to be playing well to get selected. We’ve got a big job just to get into their eight, we’ve got some work to do. It really hit home how much I miss playing for my country when I missed the Denver Test and when I missed the World Cup final as well, especially.”

RLC: With the current club versus country tension, what’s it like to come back from representative duty with a long-term injury? Do people look at you differently? Do you feel any guilt? Or is it no different to suffering an injury playing for your club?

JH: “Yeah, that’s how I look at it. It’s one of those things that just happens when you play. Sometimes things don’t go as you expect, you get a knock and that could have happened in any of the rounds of the NRL. The club was fine.

"They weren’t happy I got injured but they knew I’d been looked after impeccably and they knew it was just one of those things. I got injured representing my country. It wasn’t dirty or anything like that.

"They tried to get some salary cap relief - and rightly so. I think it’s a great idea and it’s something they’ve brought in for the future. That was the only thing they were dirty about, that the NRL rejected the salary cap relief.

"We had Siliva Havili who’d not played an awful lot of games who we had to rely on as out starting nine who did a fantastic job, luckily for us. We’re just lucky we managed fo find Siliva in that short space of time.”