When veteran Josh Hodgson was linked with a Canberra Raiders exit during and after the 2021 NRL season, a few eyebrows were raised.
Here was a mainstay of the Green Machine ready to leave after an unsuccessful season in which the Raiders failed to make the play-offs.
The 32-year-old was linked with an immediate move to the Wests Tigers in the off-season, but he eventually signed a two-year deal with the Eels from 2023.
“The decision just made sense from both sides of the coin,” Hodgson told Fox Sports.
“I’ve got a lot I still want to do in the game and I still really back my own ability to be one of the best in the game.
“And from the other point of view I knew I wanted to leave the club in a good place, there’s a few of us that have been here for a long time that have been really trying to drive the expectations and the standards here and I think from when I came in my first year in 2015 to now it’s a really different place.
“Our expectations are really high, we made three prelims and a grand final in that period which is a big achievement. We’d have liked to have done more but overall picture I’m really proud of what we’ve created here.
“I’m really big on making sure it stays that way – you want to leave your footprint on a club.
“So both sides of the coin from leaving the club in a good spot and me personally wanting to change it up a little bit where I’m the recognised No. 9 and play the majority of my time there, it just made sense.”
Hodgson also revealed that there was no bad blood between him and head coach Ricky Stuart, with both realising that his time was up.
“It was good. The club was on the same wavelength, they said if you can go somewhere and be the recognised No. 9 and that’s where you want to go then you’ve got our blessing,” Hodgson said.
“They’ve got Tommy there for the next 10 years and they need to give him some real experience in the role before they say ‘this is your jumper’.
“Everything was all good, they were just happy I’d sorted something and made the right decision for my career and my family.”