Rugby League

Canberra Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson eager to extend stint in NRL

Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson has given the strongest indication he wants to stay in Canberra for the long-term and help the club's exciting young roster fulfil its massive potential.

The Raiders must beat the high-flying Manly Sea Eagles at Canberra Stadium on Sunday to keep their finals hopes alive, but have displayed plenty of positive signs in a rebuilding year.

Hodgson has been a sensational signing for the Raiders, the 25-year-old adapting to the quicker pace of the NRL after playing more than 100 games with Hull KR in the Super League.

He played his first complete 80-minute game in Monday night's 20-18 loss to the Wests Tigers, racking up 46 tackles and making 144m after overcoming an ankle injury to take his place in the side.

The Raiders have been searching for a quality dummy-half since the departure of former captain Simon Woolford in 2006.

While he will be highly sought after when his two-year contract with the Raiders expires at the end of 2016, Hodgson said his preference was to extend his deal in Canberra.

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"I came over here looking to settle and find a home, and I think I've found that in Canberra," Hodgson said.

"They've really looked after me and made me feel welcome.

"I'm not the type of person that likes moving around a lot, I like to find where I'm happy and stay there because that's where I play my best footy.

"I'd like to stay here, but I'll worry about that in the off-season."

Hodgson said at the end of last year his preference was to finish his career in the NRL.

Raiders chief executive Don Furner said Hodgson was the type of player the club could build around for years to come.

"He's in our plans for sure," Furner said.

"We did a lot of research on him, so people outside the club may have been surprised, because some have come over from England and not made it, but we thought we had the right guy then and we still do and we'd love him to stay here.

"At the end of the season we'll go through it all."

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart spotted Hodgson playing for Hull KR and received a recommendation from St Helens coach Nathan Brown.

Hodgson forced his way into the England side at the end of last season and made his international debut at the Four Nations tournament.

While he often played the full 80 minutes in the Super League, last Monday's loss to the Tigers was the first time he had seen out an entire game in the NRL.

The Raiders only used 16 players, with back-up hooker Kurt Baptiste not getting a run.

"I felt pretty good seeing it was the first one and that's an option for the coach if he feels like (he needs) another front-rower on the bench," Hodgson said.

"We used to go with two dummy-halves (at Hull KR), but I used to go into the back-row and play 80 minutes most weeks.

"You learn with experience areas in the game where you can catch a breather or in defence, you jump out on to the edge to get your breath back a bit."

Even if the Raiders miss the finals, they can take confidence from playing an exciting brand of football with up and coming stars in nearly all positions.

"I think the potential in this team is massive," Hodgson said.

"I don't think we've put in a 80-minute performance together, but I think there are some really positive signs for the group.

"It's a really young team and with the talent we've got, the experience we're going to gain in the next couple of years is only going to help."

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