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Fresh beginning for Bailey Hodgson at Sea Eagles

Rising young Manly Sea Eagles full-back Bailey Hodgson has a clear vision for 2024.

“I’m just hoping for consistency. Just being able to get back on my feet. That’s all I'm thinking about now…consistency,’’ Hodgson said.

A very talented full-back with great strike power and speed, Hodgson has been hampered by bad luck since making his Super League debut in England as an 18-year-old for the Castleford Tigers in 2020.

His impressive form in England was enough for the Newcastle Knights to offer him a three-year deal. However, injuries limited 'Hodgo' to just 11 games at full-back in the NSW Cup.

Manly Coach Anthony Seibold first noticed 21-year-old Hodgson when working as a consultant for the Knights in between his time with England Rugby.

Seibold knew of Hodgson's untapped potential, offering him a supplementary list contract with the Sea Eagles for 2024.

New surrounds....Bailey Hodgson (with ball) has hit the ground running at the Sea Eagles
New surrounds....Bailey Hodgson (with ball) has hit the ground running at the Sea Eagles ©Alfred Naupoto (Manly Media)

“Bailey was only 18 at the time. He and Dominic Young were brought over from the Super League to Newcastle,’’ Seibold said.

“Unfortunately for Bailey, he has had a really injury interrupted three years with injuries in between COVID hitting, so he has missed a fair bit of footy.

“Bailey is a great competitor. He was one of the real elite outside backs coming through the Super League.

“We want to give Bailey an opportunity to learn his trade here. Obviously, there is a lot of competition for spots at full-back with Tom Trbojevic, Tolu Koula, and Reuben Garrick.

“Bailey is competing hard at training. He will start with our NSW Cup side and we will do our best to help him achieve his potential."

Mateship....Bailey Hodgson tries to keep warm with team-mate Kobe Rugless  at the Manly Mentality camp
Mateship....Bailey Hodgson tries to keep warm with team-mate Kobe Rugless at the Manly Mentality camp ©Alfred Naupoto (Manly Media)

Hodgson may have chosen a different sporting career path to his famous uncle in former Canberra, Parramatta, and England hooker, Josh Hodgson, if it wasn’t for a family holiday.

Having grown up playing football (soccer) in Hull, Hodgson signed with Leeds United Football Club at the age of 11 as part of their academy program.

“It got to week six or seven and I sort of got to big for soccer,’’ Hodgson recalled.

“I went on a family holiday and put on about 10 pounds. I was a winger back then, so Leeds called me in with my Mum and Dad and said they were going to terminate my contract and put me in a shadow squad for like reserves for under-12s.

“Well, that was it for me. I switched to the Cottingham Tigers Rugby League Club. All my family had played rugby league, and Josh was playing in the NRL for the Canberra Raiders at the time.”

After stints with West Hull RLFC, Hodgson rose through the ranks at Castleford and was all set to make his Super League debut until more bad luck.

“Our coach came up to me during a training session and said he was going to play me that week (against Hull FC in the Challenge Cup). I was so excited, but then at that exact session, I tore a tendon in my right knee,’’ Hodgson said.

“I made the mistake of rushing back early so I could make my debut. Fifteen minutes into my debut, my knee went again.”

Looking for a fresh start, Hodgson headed to the Knights, where despite his rotten luck, managed to spend time learning from superstar full-back Kalyn Ponga.

Weight's right....Bailey Hodgson has settled in well at Manly
Weight's right....Bailey Hodgson has settled in well at Manly ©Alfred Naupoto (Manly Media)

He now gets that opportunity at Manly with Tom Trbojevic, who like Ponga, is a Dally M Medal winner.

“I see my time at Manly as an opportunity to learn more,’’ an honest Hodgson said.

“Kalyn and Tom are different players. Kalyn is naturally gifted and things just happen for him effortlessly. Tom has a very high work ethic and is an in and around the ruck sort of player.

“I feel I'm similar to Tom in that way. It's good to just watch him at training. I look at everything, from his competitiveness, how he plays, how he sets himself up in certain positions, to how he puts himself into the team.

“Tom has already spoken to me about a few things I can work on defensively and in attack, so that’s been great for me."

Acknowledgement of Country

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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