Raiders hail Hodgson’s heroics in NRL win

Josh Hodgson had no right to play on Saturday night.

Forget that he damaged ligaments and bruised some bone in his left ankle just seven days earlier.

Just hours before steering Canberra to a 22-12 win over Penrith for a place in next weekend’s grand final qualifier against Melbourne, the star NRL hooker was bed-ridden with a severe stomach bug.

Hodgson came down with the illness after completing his first – and only – training session of the week on Friday, spending most of game-eve on the toilet.

It was the last thing the Dally M Medal contender wanted, having surviving days of intense physiotherapy and late nights icing his foot.

“I just didn’t feel quite right,” the understated Englishman said.

“Luckily it was night match, so it managed to wear off in time for kick-off.

“I was down about 1.5kg before the game, so not too much; I was just trying to keep the fluids up as much as I could.

“It’s been a rough week, but the win makes up for it.”

Rated by some as the competition’s most in-form No.9, Hodgson was error-free in his 30- tackle effort at GIO Stadium.

His kicking game was again on-song, as too was his running out of dummy half.

“He’s a tough Pom – there’s no two ways about it,” coach Ricky Stuart said.

“For him to get out there and do that after what he’s been through this week with his ankle and then the last day-and-a-half in bed, just trying to feed him as much fluid and whatever he could eat, it’s what the team is about. It’s what our club is about now.

“The resilience in this group of players is amazing and I’m in a privileged position to be their coach.”

Fellow playmaker Blake Austin, who also made a stunning return from injury to score a try in the semi-final victory after breaking his hand last month, labelled Hodgson’s heroics “huge”.

“We know what he means to our team but he’s not one for personal accolades, so we just let him get on with his job,” Austin said.

“He didn’t spent much time with us (on Friday night) at our hotel but he came and just got the job done. Full credit to him.

“We’ve had plenty of examples of toughness in this team and I’m sure there’ll be plenty more over the next many years.”

Despite the rough week, Hodgson said nothing was going to stop him from playing the Storm at AAMI Park, in what will be the club’s first preliminary final in the NRL era.

“No matter how many games you’ve played, when you’re one win away from a grand final that gives you a lot of energy,” he said.

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