Hull KR v Wigan: Josh Hodgson happy to play senior role in bright young future
HAVING witnessed the next generation of Hull KR players make their mark in recent weeks, hooker Josh Hodgson is feeling confident.
He is confident looking ahead to next season, when the young stars will be able to build on the experience gained this year.
And, of more immediate importance, he is looking ahead with confidence to today's (Sunday's) 'do-or-die' clash with Wigan, as he is confident they will again do the club proud.
Ever since Rovers suffered a humiliating 32-18 derby loss to Hull FC in July, coach Craig Sandercock has turned to his rising stars to show their worth.
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Only one win at Widnes has been forthcoming, but KR suffered single point defeats to both Leeds and in-form Wakefield as the young players have shown they have not been overawed by being thrown in.
Hodgson, of course, has been there himself, breaking through the ranks firstly at Hull, before switching to the Robins.
And he says Rovers' senior players have full confidence in those promoted from the reserve ranks.
"I always trust the players picked to play in our team to do their jobs," Hodgson told the Mail.
"They wouldn't be out there if they couldn't do what was asked of them.
"Dave Petersen came in and had a couple of really good games. Louis Sheriff has done very well too and George Griffin has been a workhorse down the middle.
"Liam Salter has done himself proud at centre and looks to be one for the future.
"As much as you might worry about the young players in their first game, we don't have to worry any more.
"They have all put their hands up and contributed to the team.
"It's not like the more senior players have gone away from their own game, but you do look out for the young, less experienced players.
"Now we know they will go well and everything is going to be all right.
"They are all in contention now every week."
Hodgson has certainly established himself as a regular in the side ever since he made the switch from Hull ahead of the 2010 season.
This season he has been one of Rovers' most consistent players.
His call-up to the England Knights squad was no surprise, and he was then 18th man for England in their second International Origin game with the Exiles at the Galpharm Stadium.
His development under Sandercock has seen him emerge as one of the brightest hookers in Super League, and this year he has added an extra string to his bow – try-scoring.
With two games to go, he is on 13 tries, just two behind winger Dave Hodgson who leads the way on 15.
Considering Hodgson only managed two tries in his first 47 Super League games, it's a remarkable transformation.
"It would be nice if I did finish leading try scorer, especially as I only had two in two years before this season," Hodgson said.
"Dave is out in front and it would be nice to top him, but as long as the team wins that's the main thing."
Hodgson's participation in the final two games against Wigan and London had looked in doubt because of a hand injury picked up in the act of scoring his latest try in the 31-30 defeat to Wakefield.
Initially feared as a break, the injury thankfully turned out to be only severe bruising, and Hodgson says he is ready to finish the season in style.
Rovers' need to win their own games and hope Wakefield and Bradford slip up, and the KR man says they must make sure they get their own job done first before looking for results elsewhere.
"I've been pretty happy with how I have been going. I started the season well and I've been consistent apart from a couple of off games," he said.
"I still want to continue working hard and keep learning.
"It's all or nothing for us now, but there is still a slight chance we can make the play-offs, so we have to do everything we can.
"Before the Wakefield and Bradford games, we spoke about our destiny being in our own hands. We lost and that was our own fault. It's so frustrating but we have to do our part now and keep our fingers crossed."