Hodgson wants to help Widnes youngsters step straight into Super League

New Widnes academy coach Brett Hodgson is looking forward to developing players who are ready to step straight into the Vikings’ first team.

Part of his brief for working with the club’s youngsters is to inculcate systems and structures into players, who can then move seamlessly up into senior rugby.

“That’s what we want to progress to,” Hodgson said.

“But there’s a long time between now and then, because the boys have been playing in different structures.

“Its an education now with trying to get them to play the way the first team does.

“We’ve got seven or eight now who train with the first team on regular occasions, so the progression for them will be not so hard.

“But for some of the young kids, it’s about the education about how we want them to play, and how they learn to build pressure and build games.

“That’s exciting for me, because there are several young kids who are built to play that sort of way anyway, so it’s going to be good.”

Getting more local Widnesians into the first team is also a priority for Hodgson, who indicates that there are already some fine players on the verge of stepping up.

“It is good, there is some local talent here who are already looking good,” he said.

“In the next couple of years, they will hopefully progress to learning some different things, and becoming better players, which I’m confident we can achieve.”

Hodgson is remaining in place as assistant first-team coach too, but is keen to stress that there is no conflict between his role with the academy and his job with the senior squad.

“It doesn’t conflict with any of my first-team duties, which is important,” he said.

“First and foremost, my priority is the first team. But it’s good that there’s another challenge for me, and hopefully I can help some of these guys progress to eventually become first team players.”

The former Huddersfield and Warrington full-back also enjoyed his first training session with the youngsters.

“It was good, but I think they were a little bit nervy,” he said.

“As all players are when a new coach comes into the scenario. Things change a little bit, and it’s easy to get a bit pressured.

“But they were good, they responded well. The best thing about boys that age is the fact that they just want to learn, they want a lesson, and when you speak you’ve got so many eyes looking directly at you.

“It’s good, because they react a lot better than to someone who’s been around for a long time, and potentialy has some stubborn habits.

“I’m really looking forward to continuing with them.”

Hodgson, who played for New South Wales in State of Origin, as well as for the Exiles against England, is well aware of the significant role that junior coaches play in developing first team stars.

“I had some really good coaches growing up in my juniors at Wests Magpies,” he said.

“I still remember some of those coaches and some of the things that they taught me to progress to first-grade football.

“It’s no different over here. The development that we’ve got through Phil Finney [head of youth performance] and the club has been great.

“There’s now a base of players who can definitely progress to the next level.”

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