Embattled Parramatta have landed a crucial blow in the player market after striking a deal for Canberra hooker Josh Hodgson to join the club.Ready says done deal.
Hodgson will link with the Eels from 2023, taking the place of Canterbury-bound Reed Mahoney at the end of next season.
The English international will provide experience and leadership to Parramatta, easing the pressure on halves Dylan Brown and Mitchell Moses.
Hodgson has 12 months remaining on his current contract in the nation’s capital and his decision to join the Eels in 2023 could prompt Canberra to enter the market for a hooker themselves — Sydney Roosters No.9 Sam Verrills and Wests Tigers’ Jacob Liddlelook set to explore their options.
Hodgson has been a pivotal figure at the Raiders over the past seven years, having joined the club from Super League side Hull and quickly become one of the most influential rakes the game.
His signing shapes as a coup for the Eels given the recent exodus from the club.
Mahoney, Marata Niukore and Isaiah Papali’i have all agreed to join rival clubs from 2023, while the Eels are fighting to retain prop Junior Paulo.
Hodgson’s signing helps stem the tide at a time when Parramatta supporters are asking questions about the club’s recruitment and retention policy.
Meanwhile, Canberra, Parramatta and Canterbury have returned to the negotiating table as they edge towards a deal that will see Bailey Simonssson move to the Eels and Nick Cotric return to the nation’s capital.
The deal looked to have stalled earlier this week but it is understood the Raiders have held talks with the NRL salary cap department about how to accommodate Simonsson’s departure and Cotric’s arrival.
The Wests Tigers are also in the mix for Cotric but it is believed the NSW winger’s preference is to return to Canberra. Raiders officials are now optimistic that will indeed happen and hope to have something finalised in the coming days.
Cotric’s departure will free cap space for the Bulldogs as they attempt to create room for the arrival of Mahoney and Viliame Kikau.