Young English full-back finds new club to keep NRL dream alive

There have been a number of high profile transfers and signings since the end of the domestic season, Leeds Rhinos’ acquisition of Andy Ackers and Brodie Croft being the most significant of those, but there’s now been a move down under in the NRL that features an Englishman that could be just as interesting.

It might not be on the same scale in terms of profile or monetary value for contracts and fees but for Bailey Hodgson it’s a huge move. The former Castleford Tigers youngster has found himself a new club following an injury-ridden spell at Newcastle Knights, now heading to Manly Sea Eagles where he’ll hope to earn a shot.

Still aged just 21, Hodgson headed down under having played just one game in Super League for the Tigers with the promising full-back gambling on himself and his ability, whilst also linking up with his uncle, Josh Hodgson.

Josh retired this past season but had forged an incredible career down under in the NRL having left Hull KR back in 2014, the hooker registering 150 NRL appearances for Canberra Raiders before his brief sting with Parramatta Eels.

Young Bailey had linked up with his uncle during his time down under but he now leaves Newcastle and heads to Manly with the Daily Telegraph reporting that the Sea Eagles have added the 21-year-old to their ‘supplementary list’ for the 2024 campaign. That will likely see Hodgson continue to operate in the NSW Cup for the Eagles’ feeder team, something he had done during his time at Newcastle.

For the Knights he never quite cracked the NRL although he did feature in the pre-season tournament, during which he picked up another devasting injury, however in his three years with the Knights he did feature in the NSW Cup including having played 11 times this past season. The 2023 season did see him get the most gametime during his time down under which has perhaps given Manly hope that they can mould Hodgson into an NRL level player.

He’ll be hoping for a run of luck in terms of his injury status as he takes on the fresh opportunity and he’ll be one of a number of young English talents in the NRL next season Hodgson’s former club Newcastle welcoming Kai Pearce-Paul and Will Pryce this past week.

Another Englishman heading over there is Morgan Smithies who will link up with Canberra Raiders, Josh Hodgson’s old team, continuing the tradition of English players heading to Canberra with Elliott Whitehead currently starring for the Raiders and England captain George Williams having played for them during his time down under.