Sea Eagles recruit Jayden Hodges has conceded the move from Townsville to the big smoke was the most daunting proposition of the decision to leave the Cowboys.
But, since docking into the northern beaches at the end of last season, Hodges has felt right at home despite initial fears of the lifestyle adjustment.
“I’m loving my time here at Manly,” Hodges said. “When I was in Townsville I was a little frightened of the big city life in Sydney, but the northern beaches has it’s own little area and I’m really enjoying it.”
The cousin of Broncos centre Justin Hodges has settled in nicely at his new club and says it’s his teammates who have made the stay at Manly a pleasurable one.
“Surprisingly they are all relaxed here. I thought they’d be more intense but they are really laid back and outside footy all the boys are cool,” Hodges said.
Forced to leave his family and close friends in order to pursue his fledgling NRL career, Hodges says the opportunity to play alongside a team filled with international experience was an offer too good to refuse.
The hooker revealed the coaching staff and talented crop of players at the Sea Eagles were the driving force behind his shift South.
"There were a lot of reasons. More importantly, the word opportunity came up. I made the move down here to work under Matt Ballin and the coaching staff,” Hodges said.
“To get the opportunity to work alongside Andrew Johns, Geoff Toovey, Dave Penna and Steve Georgallis, it was too big of an opportunity to knock back.
“Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran are international halves, one’s played Origin and just the opportunity to work with them will definitely improve my game.”
Having already played a handful of first-grade games last season at the Cowboys, Hodges trusts he is primed for the top grade should he be called upon.
“I’m prepared for that. My experience in the NRL last year was crazy. Coming from the Holden Cup, it’s a whole new game. The professionalism of the players is incredible and everything here has to be so specific.”