Warrington outclassed Leeds at the weekend with a 35-18 trouncing but there was one man who was by far classier than the other twenty-five men on the pitch.
It was the opening of the second half when a tackle from Kylie Leuluai knocked Hodgson out and, ruled as a controversial illegal tackle (though Leeds coach Brian McDermott later insisted it was legal), the spark out lit a flame in Hodgson that saw him spring to life. This was the moment that the game changed:
Playing for the side that denied him a Challenge Cup victory in 2009 with Huddersfield, Brett Hodgson left such a mark on the match from that crucial turning point that he assisted tries from Riley and Atkins, aptly scored the last Warrington try for himself and kicked six goals. In fact, his fourteen point contribution provided the buffer that almost certainly secured the victory.
So who is Brett Hodgson? Well, he’s not the slick spaghetti legs Sam Tomkins of the world of full backs. He’s also not a giant, he stands at 5’9”. Just an inch and a half taller than me, and I consider myself average woman height, but he stood the tallest man on the field on Saturday afternoon.
34-year-old Brett Hodgson began his career in Australia, where he won the NRL with Wests Tigers when he was 27. He put in some impressive performances at Wests and still holds the individual record for the most points in a season. Watch his Wests highlights here:
He made six State of Origin appearances for New South Wales, including the 2006 decider where, after NSW were leading the decider with seven minutes to go, a pass from Hodgson went awry and Darren Lockyer won it for Queensland, watch here the moment that sparked six consecutive Queensland victories:
You need to be tough to play Origin and Hodgson showed at the weekend exactly how tough he is. Perhaps Origin experiences like this one – also a legal tackle - stood him in good stead in the Challenge Cup:
In 2009, after moving to Huddersfield from Wests, he won the coveted Super League Man of Steel award after his input at Huddersfield contributed from them improving from third to bottom in the table the previous year to a Challenge Cup final appearance – and defeat – against Warrington.
What he showed on Saturday was sheer strength, both to be able to recover from that tackle and in the way that he dominated the game from that point. It was incredible to watch and I think that, having been overshadowed by cries of Tomkins as the best full back in Super League for the last couple of years, to have the recognition of the prestigious Lance Todd to add to his already impressive list of accolades is testament to his sheer strength and skill.