Planet Rugby

Hodgson signs for Northampton

13th June 2014 11:02

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Joel Hodgson of Newcastle breaks the tackle from Saracens Tim Streather

New Saint: Joel Hodgson

Joel Hodgson is to leave Newcastle Falcons after signing terms with Aviva Premiership champions Northampton Saints.

Academy product Hodgson joined the Falcons' professional squad in the summer of 2010, making his first team debut as a replacement during the Falcons' Amlin Challenge Cup victory over Bourgoin the following season.

More recently the talented half-back spent time on loan with Rotherham Titans before hitting a period of strong form on his return to the North East which saw him appear in all of the last eight fixtures of the Falcons' season.

One such appearance saw 22-year-old Hodgson kick the conversion which secured an all-important bonus point against his new side.

"Scrum-half is a specialist position where you need a lot of depth, especially when you have the likes of Kahn Fotuali'i and Lee Dickson away regularly with Samoa and England," said Northampton Saints boss Jim Mallinder.

"Joel is a talented young English player, and he will provide stiff competition for Alex Day, who himself won the Junior World Championships with England just 12 months ago.

"We certainly view Joel as a player who has a lot of potential and we're looking forward to seeing him develop at Franklin's Gardens."

Hodgson said that while he felt sadness at leaving his hometown club a move to the Aviva Premiership champions was something he could not turn down.

"The Saints has been one of the top clubs in the Aviva Premiership for a number of years and it is an exciting place to be right now," said Hodgson.

"I'm under no illusions that it is going to be a steep development curve for me, but having players like Kahn Fotuali'i, Lee Dickson and Stephen Myler at the club means that I'm going to be learning from some of the best half-backs in the country.

"I'd like to thank everyone at Newcastle for everything they've done for me over the past few years. I grew up supporting the Falcons and to wear the first team shirt was a real privilege. Leaving Kingston Park and the friends and supporters I have at the Falcons will be a wrench for me, but I believe that the move to Northampton is in the best interests of my long-term career."

"Joel is a talented local player and we're sad to see him go, but joining the Aviva Premiership champions offers a great opportunity for him to play a part in and learn from a team which is at the top of the league," said Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards.

"We wish Joel all the best with Northampton but as is always the case at Kingston Park, the door is never closed to local talent and we look forward to watching Joel's progress closely over the coming seasons."

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