After such an incredible year for Josh Hodgson in the NRL with Canberra, it’s not hard to see why so many people are drawing some comparisons that would have seemed far-fetched a couple of years ago.
It’s fair to say Hodgson’s move to the Raiders two years prior didn’t ruffle too many feathers – but how he has made an impact since.
He’s established himself as potentially the best hooker in the competition – in fact, only recently, Raiders legend – and current Australia coach – Mal Meninga said Hodgson was undoubtedly in the top two hookers in the world: alongside Kangaroos skipper Cameron Smith.
So how does Hodgson react to such high praise?
“It’s always nice to play against the best players in the world in the best competition, but I don’t really like to look at individual battles,” he says.
“I just worry about myself and what I need to do for the team and my role on day. As long as I’m doing that, great – but it’s always good to play in these games and this type of competition against that type of calibre of player.
“I just don’t like to compare myself to people. I want to be my own player and not compare myself to anyone. I have my own values, my own beliefs and my own expectations of myself and I try live up to them rather than compare to anyone.”
But even if Hodgson is coy on comparisons with Smith, he is far more open about where England’s must-win clash against the Kangaroos on Sunday ranks in terms of his career.
“It’s definitely up there,” Hodgson admits. “It’s a massive game; we all know it’s a pressure game but we just have to go out there and do our own job, and if we have the belief and we all play our best 1 to 17, we can get the job done. Club and country are two totally different feelings for me – club is a bit unexplainable but pulling on the jumper for country is always a proud honour whoever you’re playing, especially in the big games.”
And what would a victory for England symbolise this weekend?
“It would give us a massive boost,” Hodgson says. “In any sport – football, rugby union and rugby league, if you’re playing the top team in the world and you get a win, it will always be a boost for your sport or your nation.
“However, we’re not worried about that too much – we’re just worried about us.”