Hodgson has massive opportunity

Charlie Hodgson will find himself on familiar territory this weekend - seeking the keys for long-term occupancy of number 10. [more]

Hodgson has massive opportunity

Charlie Hodgson will find himself on familiar territory this weekend – seeking the keys for long-term occupancy of number 10.

Hodgson starts an England game for the first time since November 2006 when he lines up in Sunday’s non-cap fixture against the Barbarians at Twickenham.

That was 23 Tests and two England coaches ago but, while Andy Robinson and Brian Ashton might have come and gone, Hodgson continues to stick around.

The ‘prize’ for a commanding display this weekend could be fly-half duties when England tackle the All Blacks in Auckland on June 14.

With Danny Cipriani and Jonny Wilkinson both recovering from respective ankle and shoulder operations that put them out of tour contention, Hodgson knows the stakes are high this weekend.

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England tour manager Rob Andrew and his coaches could still prefer either Olly Barkley or Toby Flood against New Zealand, but Hodgson at least has first chance to stake a claim.

He said: “I see the tour as a massive opportunity for me. It is a big responsibility.

“I’ve always had good self-belief and that I was capable of being in this position, so I must grab it with both hands now and take any opportunity I get.

“This is the first opportunity I’ve had in a long time in an England shirt.

“You never give up hope. I’ve always maintained good belief in my ability to play and perform at this level, and I have been given another opportunity to do it.

“Hopefully, I can make things as hard as possible for the guys when they come back.

“The competitive edge in me has never changed. I’ve always looked to be the best I can, and if that is good enough to play in an England shirt then brilliant. If not, then I will keep on working.

“Competing against the likes of Cipriani, Wilkinson and (Ryan) Lamb, they are obviously very good players and it is always going to be tough to knock them out and be picked ahead of them.

“But being in such a competitive position drives you forward to achieve more and be selected in the future.”

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