Trent Hodkinson signs with NRL Knights

Newcastle have secured their best halfback since Andrew Johns’s retirement after Trent Hodkinson signed a three-year deal with the Knights.

While the recruitment of the NSW halfback is a coup for the Knights, it is a massive blow for Gold Coast Titans who are still without a senior playmaker for next NRL season following Daly Cherry-Evans’s backflip.

The Knights were in the market for a big-name player, with the club set to lose senior members Kurt Gidley and Beau Scott next year and after granting Joey Leilua a mid-season release to join Canberra.

“Trent’s signing is a major coup for our club,” Knights chief executive Matt Gidley said.

“Trent is the current NSW halfback and has proven on many occasions, in grand finals and Origin matches, his ability to steer his team to victory.

“Our club has a young and talented backline in place and we look forward to Trent assisting our team to realise their potential.”

The Knights have not boasted a big-name playmaker since rugby league Immortal Johns retired in 2007.

Since then the Knights have made the semi-finals just three times and not finished higher than seventh.

Hodkinson’s arrival will put the future of Knights half Tyrone Roberts under a cloud.

Roberts still has a year to run on his contract but the Knights may allow him to negotiate elsewhere for next year.

The Gold Coast shapes as a possible destination for Roberts with the Titans desperate for a playmaker.

Their recruitment plans were thrown into turmoil when Cherry-Evans backed out of a deal to join the Titans and sign a “lifetime” contract with Manly.

After believing they had landed Cherry-Evans, the Titans allowed five-eighth Aidan Sezer to sign with Canberra and the Queensland club is in desperate need of a halves partner for young gun Kane Elgey.

The Titans this week reportedly tabled a two-year $800,000 contract to Hodkinson however he turned it down to sign with the Knights.

Despite being the Blues’ current playmaker – and will line up in the State of Origin decider in Brisbane on Wednesday – Hodkinson was squeezed out of Canterbury because of salary cap restraints.

Bulldogs coach Des Hasler has favoured investing in young playmaker Moses Mbye instead of re-signing Hodkinson.

Despite Hodkinson’s loss, the Bulldogs will still boast a potent halves pairing next year with Mbye to partner former NSW five-eighth Josh Reynolds.

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