Ten years and a day after his first Aviva Premiership Rugby final, Charlie Hodgson’s fourth will be his last, but the legendary playmaker insists he is perfectly at ease with his impending retirement.
Hodgson kicked 23 points to help Sale Sharks to the 2006 Aviva Premiership Rugby crown and will be looking to clinch his third domestic title against Exeter Chiefs at Twickenham on Saturday.
The 35-year-old fly-half has racked up an unprecedented 2,623 Aviva Premiership Rugby points in 252 appearances, but faces an altogether different challenge as Saracens’ new head of recruitment and talent identification once he hangs up his kicking boots.
Mark McCall said Hodgson remained ‘class’ and despite still possessing an almost unique range of passing which has been the hallmark of his career, the 38-cap international knew it was time to go.
“For now I am absolutely fine with it, there were different reasons behind doing it,” Hodgson explained.
“One, physically, but two, the job opportunity. I am happy with my decision and I don’t mind that it is coming to an end this weekend.
“I am totally at peace with the decision to retire, ask me again in six months and I might not be.
“The guys at Saracens have been great with me over the last few years. But for me it is the physical side of things, it is the recovery, it is dealing with those knocks and obviously the opportunity to take on this recruitment role.
“Recovery is a tough thing to take and not just from games, but from training as well – being able to back up training day after training day.”
Hodgson’s new role has already led him to Arsenal and Southampton football clubs in an attempt to familiarise himself with the complex scouting networks that lay the foundation for long-term success.
But, as you would expect, he is not taking his eye off Exeter Chiefs and Twickenham for long and the reality of his retirement may take a while to bed in.
He said: “I have one eye on it, but I am still playing and there’s only so much I can do until I am finished and I can really focus on it.
“Because I am immersed in it and because I am involved in the whole thing, I don’t give too much thought about it.
“Probably the biggest moment and shift will be when I am in the office and they are all out doing pre-season training in July, so that will be the first time I really notice it properly.”
If you want to be at the world's biggest club rugby final, this year's Aviva Premiership Rugby Final on Saturday 28 May at Twickenham, tickets are available from premiershiprugby.com/final