Work ethic key to success: NRL’s Hodgson

Josh Hodgson wasn’t the most naturally gifted kid or even the best rugby league player in his family growing up.

That title went to his older brother.

“But I stuck at it, worked hard, and managed to kick on and go full-time with my career,” Canberra’s star NRL hooker said.

“Unfortunately he didn’t, so he’s kind of a bit mad about that.”

After just four rounds into his second year in the NRL, Hodgson leads the Dally M Medal count with 10 votes out of a possible 12.

He’s quickly established himself as one of the best English imports in the competition, alongside the likes of Canterbury skipper James Graham and South Sydney hardman Sam Burgess.

Graham this week ranked Hodgson among the NRL’s premier hookers, saying he deserved to be spoken about in the same breath as Melbourne’s Cameron Smith and Wests Tigers veteran Robbie Farah.

Australian, Queensland and Raiders enforcer Josh Papalii agrees.

“He’s got that running game that most No.9’s don’t have, everyone knows about his kicking game and he doesn’t shy away from defence,” Papalii said on Wednesday.

“I definitely see him up there and a massive contender for the Dally M.”

While the plaudits aren’t lost on Hodgson, he admits he’s his own biggest critic.

He rated his start to the 2016 season as “not too bad”, and felt there were still a lot of areas he – and the team – can improve.

With first-choice halves Aiden Sezer and Blake Austin out injured, the 26-year-old has at times had to play out of position.

“It’s good to get some recommendations to say that you’re playing well, but at the same time I want a few more points on the board for us and a bit more consistency in our game,” he said.

Hodgson spent most of his Super League career at Hull KR and – like many – often looked up to Smith, but can rattle off a long list of other names he’s sought inspiration from over the years.

From Ben Galea and Mick Vella, to Clint Newton and Michael Dobson.

“I think the biggest thing that anybody can have is a strong work ethic,” he said.

“When you’re young that’s a vital edge, to learn that you need to work hard to get places and blokes like that … really do help give you a good base and beliefs.”

As to whether he wants to be the first overseas player to win the Dally M since New Zealand halfback Gary Freeman in 1992, Hodgson’s humility kicks in.

“I don’t really like to think about things like that, any personal accolades. I just like to take each week as it comes.”

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