Canberra are destined for special things, according to NRL livewire Blake Austin, after the club locked in another one of their stars for the next three years.
The Raiders on Tuesday confirmed hooker Josh Hodgson had agreed to a two-year contract extension to stay in the nation’s capital until at least the end of 2018.
The English international was considered one of the league’s best buys last year, his debut season in the NRL.
It follows a number of recent big re-signings, including Austin, promising fullback Jack Wighton, prop Shannon Boyd, Josh Papalii and Joey Leilua.
Former Gold Coast Aidan Sezer is also committed for three seasons, while Newcastle back-rower Joseph Tapine is expected to join the club within days after being granted an early release by Newcastle.
He’s already signed a four-year deal at the Raiders from 2017.
“It’s not hard to see that we’ve all got a lot of respect for Sticky (coach Ricky Stuart) and we can really see where he wants to go as a team,” Austin said on Tuesday during a visit to his son’s Canberra school.
“We just want to get on board and be a part of it.
“For us all to develop as players together and help each other out along the journey will be something special.”
Raiders veteran Shaun Fensom agreed, believing it was important to keep a core group of young players together.
Hodgson admitted when he first arrived at the Raiders from the English Super League, there wasn’t much belief that they could make a “real go of things”.
But he feels things have turned around.
“I think there’s some exciting things to come in the next few of years, and I’m massively excited to be a part of that,” he said.
Raiders chief executive Don Furner said Hodgson had delivered “over and above” what they’d expected when he they recruited him.
“We see Josh as one of the club’s most important players as we continue to bring stability to the NRL squad and to have him sign with us helps us build a squad which we believe will be successful.”
The Raiders start their season at home on March 5 against Penrith.