England international hooker key to Parramatta Eels success, according to Australian press

After getting to the NRL Grand Final last season, Parramatta Eels are expected to challenge for the title again in 2023.

However, there are questions around what will be different this time around as they aim to topple arch-rivals and back-to-back Champions the Penrith Panthers.

There will be an added edge within the Eels roster though in the shape of England international hooker Josh Hodgson who has signed after seven seasons in the Australian capitain with Canberra Raiders.

Hodgson made the switch from Humberside to the NRL in 2015 and he’s flourished ever since, despite arriving in Australia’s premier competition as a virtually unknown figure.

He’s now landed in Parramatta having signed a two-year deal with the Eels, and the veteran number nine will be hungry to get on the field having spent all of 2022 sidelined with an ACL injury.

The 33-year-old has made 138 appearances in the NRL and in that time he has become a household name and has earned a reputation as one the best hookers playing down under.

Despite injury dominating his last season at Canberra, Parramatta boss Brad Arthur is expecting him to be key in returning the Eels to the Grand Final in a bid to go one better – as Daily Telegraph journalist David Riccio explained in the paper.

“I spoke to Brad about Josh and he’s moved within five minutes of the Eels’ training facility,” explained Riccio.

“He was banging down the door to start training. He came a couple of days earlier and has not missed a session.

“He is the clear, dominating voice and player in the middle. If he fires, the Eels won’t miss a beat.”

Hodgson is set to step straight into the hooking role after the departure of Reed Mahoney who has left for Canterbury Bulldogs.

It’s a position that won’t phase veteran Hodgson who has 274 career appearances to his name, with 134 of them coming in Super League with Hull Kingston Rovers.

However, that total is now outweighed by his appearances in the NRL (138) with Hodgson one of very few modern day British players to have been a success in Australia’s top league that doesn’t play either prop or back-row.

Now at the latter end of his career, it will be interesting to see if Hodgson can build even further on that reputation and go all the way and win the big one with the Eels next season – if he stays fit there is every chance!

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