Hodgson commits future to Newcastle Falcons

Promising 18-year-old talent, Joel Hodgson has committed his future to the Newcastle Falcons by signing a long-term deal with the club.

The former Royal Grammar School pupil joined the Falcons professional squad last summer having progressed through the club’s successful academy system.

A boyhood Newcastle Falcons fan, Hodgson made his debut back in October, as a replacement during the northeasterners’ 22-16 Amlin Challenge Cup triumph over Bourgoin, at Kingston Park.

And it was not long before the Geordie announced himself on the big stage with a touchline conversion to help the Falcons to victory over their French counterparts.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time here and the season has gone better than I thought it would for me,” Hodgson told media manager Stewart McCullough.

“I’m delighted to have signed the contract and now my realistic target is to push on and play in the European games like I have been doing this season.

“The feeling of walking out onto Kingston Park is incredible. Just the feeling of playing in front of 50 on a school day, to over 5,000 now is amazing,” said Hodgson.

Despite Hodgson’s relatively slender frame, the budding star has not been deterred by the physicality of the professional game, saying: “I’ve experienced a new element of the game since turning professional where I have been on the wrong end of a cheap shot at times.

“My communication has had to improve to be in line for selection because if you cannot communicate you’re not going to get on the pitch. Players like Ally Hogg and Jeremy Manning demand that I talk and this has really improved my communication.”

And Hodgson is keen to put himself forward as an understudy to world-class goal kicker, Jimmy Gopperth as he continues his rugby education on Tyneside.

He said: “That is something I would really like to aim for but who knows as Jeremy Manning is also good in that position even though he is seen as a No. 15.

“He’s also a quality No. 10 so I’ve got a long way to go to knock him off second choice, and I’ve still got to learn a lot before I get to where I want to be.

“Maybe the middle of next season might be a bit too early but who knows what will happen. It is a target and if I can’t, I’ll keep on trying.”

Academy coach Mark Laycock identified the attack minded youngster at an early age and added his praise for the young prodigy.

“This season Joel has started to show signs of what he is capable of as a player. He has tremendous talent and is a very tough kid because we sometimes forget that he is still only 18-years-old.

“We are delighted to see his future with us at Newcastle where he has good mentors around him in Jimmy Gopperth and Jeremy Manning, who are helping him to develop his all round game,” he said.

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