NEW top Australian signing Brett Hodgson has always been a natural leader of men.
The 30-year-old full-back has been handed the responsibility of leading Huddersfield Giants into Super League XIV after spending three seasons as captain of top Australian NRL club West Tigers.
During a glittering 12-year career in the Australian NRL, Hodgson established himself as one of the world’s best full-backs and an inspirational performer.
And that was officially recognised in 2005 when he was named the Dally M Full-back of the Year as the best player in his position in the Australian game and was the competition’s leading pointscorer with 308.
That crowned an incredible year for Hodgson who, along with Giants teammates Jamahl Lolesi and Paul Whatuira, was in the West Tigers’ 2005 Grand Final winning team that beat North Queensland Cowboys 30-16.
In total, Hodgson has made 212 appearances in the NRL, spanning over 12 seasons, and also played six State Of Origin games for New South Wales.
But even though he has achieved so much in the game, he believes being appointed captain of the Giants is one of the highlights of his glittering career.
“It’s a real honour and I know how proud I’ll feel when I lead out the side for the first time,” said Hodgson.
“It’s always been my dream to play in England and to be appointed captain in my first season here is the icing on the cake. It is without doubt one of the highlights of my career.
“A lot of quality players come over from Australia to play here and never get the privilege of captaining one of the top English teams. I’m one of the very fortunate ones who can say they have.
“I just hope I can do the right job for everyone and that I can produce the performances that are expected from a captain of a Super League club.”
Given the impression Hodgson has already created during training and in the pre-season games against Castleford and Wigan, it would be a massive surprise if he failed to deliver.
Although he didn’t arrive on these shores until the New Year, he already feels very much at home and believes that with the players he has around him, leading the side will be an unforgettable experience.
“I can’t believe how quickly I’ve settled in and how easily it has been to fit in to this squad,” he added.
“From day one, everyone made me feel at home, and I can’t believe how much I’ve enjoyed these first few weeks training here.
“To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever been at a squad where there have been so many laughs, even though the work has been so hard!
“And I believe this all bodes well for the future, both for the team and for me as an individual.
“I may be 30 now, but I still feel as if I’ve got at least three or four good years left in me, never mind the two I’ll definitely have at the Giants.
“My body feels young, I’m in great shape and last season I believe I was in some of the form of my life.
“I’ve been delighted with what I’ve achieved in the Australian game, with my State of Origin appearances and Grand Final success.
“And I would like to think I can achieve things at the Giants as well.
“It’s pretty obvious there’s quality throughout the squad, and with the way the boys have been throughout pre-season training I’ve got very high hopes.
“I believe the English style should suit my play, and I would love to help the Giants make the play-offs. That would be a fantastic feeling.”
Before signing for Huddersfield, Hodgson had been linked with a possible move to Wigan Warriors.
But the experienced Australian admits conversations with a former Giant and teammate at Wests Tigers went a massive way to him deciding to move to West Yorkshire.
“I’ve always been very good friends with John Skandalis, and kept in touch with him when he moved to Huddersfield two years ago,” added Hodgson.
“Skando always went on about how much he loved it at the club, and told me I wouldn’t regret coming here if I decided to sign.
“What he had to say certainly had a major influence in my final decision, and so far I have to say Skando was absolutely spot-on.”