English hooker Josh Hodgson will not be playing for the Canberra Raiders in this year’s Auckland Nines.
Hodgson confirmed to Love Rugby League that he will be absent from Canberra’s squad for the popular tournament, which starts at Eden Park on February 6.
The 26-year old, who left Hull KR to join the Raiders at the end of 2014, did not play in the Auckland Nines last year either.
Hodgson made a smooth transition to the NRL in his debut year, making 24 appearances and scoring two tries.
He told Love Rugby League he has been looking to improve in the off-season and become an 80-minute player. Hodgson was Canberra’s quickest forward in the 10 metre sprint and was regarded overall as the club’s best performer in pre-season after Jarrad Kennedy.
“All aspects, defensively, attacking-wise and just working harder,” he said.
“An extra 10% on all the things is a massive thing to do.
“Keep doing all your extras and look after yourself outside of training as well because if you’re not doing that then you tend to come unstuck when it’s time to play.
“I’d like to [play 80 minutes], I always want to be on the field as long as I can but if ‘Stick’ [coach Ricky Stuart] feels it’s better for me to come off and have a bit of a breather than come back on, then whatever’s best for the team really.”
Hodgson has more competition for the starting number 9 position in 2016 with the arrival of Adam Clydesdale from Newcastle.
Kurt Baptiste, Clydesdale and the Englishman are all vying for the hooking role with the ‘Green Machine’.
“It’s been pretty good, we’ve been doing a lot of work with Simon Woolford and the other coaching staff on what we need to improve on a personal level, and as a 9, and us as a group,” Hodgson said.
“I think Adam’s added some quality to the squad and is going really well.
“Kurt had a strong back end to the year last year so I’m sure he’s aiming to kick on and have a good year.”