Lion shows defensive resolve

Former Lions tourist Charlie Hodgson admits improving his defensive capabilities was a key element of his return to England colours. [more]

Lion shows defensive resolve

Former Lions tourist Charlie Hodgson admits improving his defensive capabilities was a key element of his return to England colours.

The 2005 Lion, who missed out on a Test place to Stephen Jones and Jonny Wilkinson, hasn’t played for his country since 2008 but will tour Australasia with England this summer.

Hodgson has always been seen as one of Europe’s most-impressive playmakers but the Sale star was widely criticised for his perceived defensive frailties after England returned from New Zealand two seasons ago.

The 29-year-old lasted just 50 minutes of England’s first Test defeat to the All Blacks that year as he suffered the indignity of being hauled off having being trampled over by Ma’a Nonu.

But while many critics predicted the end of Hodgson’s international career, the man himself kept his head down, worked hard on his defence and has now been rewarded with an England recall. 

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"I’ve worked a lot on every aspect of my game but defence was one of the key issues that Johnno spoke to me about after that tour," said Hodgson, who had actually had to wait 19 months for a Test start in the lead up to that now infamous international in Auckland and has since gone close to two more years without so much as a sniff of another cap. 

"I’ve had to go away and work on that with the coaches at Sale. 

“I guess some of it was to do with technique, getting yourself in the right position at the right time. Hopefully that is something that is improving. 

"It’s been a few years since I’ve been involved with England so I was just concentrating on how I’ve been playing for my club.”

Concentrating solely on club rugby most have been slightly depressing at times for a man who scored 44 points on his England debut, particularly as Sale struggled to avoid relegation in what was an ultimately disappointing season this year. 

But Hodgson insists he has being focusing on enjoying his rugby, something which he believes is central to his recall. 

"I think for me personally it’s about enjoying the experience,” added Hodgson. 

"And it’s been tough to enjoy it at Sale. It’s been a hard last few months of the season but that has worked for me. If you enjoy yourself, you feel more relaxed and you want to express yourself on the field. 

"I’ve taken enough of a battering over the last few years that you tend to get bogged down and worried about it. 

"I’m delighted to be given another opportunity. It’s not for me to say whether it’s my final chance. For me, it’s an opportunity that I’ve been given again – I don’t know how much game time I will get on tour but whatever time I get I’ll take it."

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