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Hodgson relishing new role at Northampton Saints

Joel Hodgson’s conversion from fly-half to scrum-half stepped up another level last week and the Northampton Saint admits the LV= Cup is the perfect chance for him to continue to hone his skills.

The 22-year-old made his first start for his new club last weekend and it came against his former employers Newcastle Falcons in a 37-23 victory at Franklin’s Gardens.

With Lee Dickson away with England preparing for the autumn internationals and Kahn Fotuali’i rested, Hodgson donned the No.9 shirt for the first time as a Saint.

By his own admission, Hodgson made a nervous start in his new position after playing almost exclusively at fly-half for the Falcons.

But he soon found his groove and now has his sights set on making an impact against the Scarlets in the LV= Cup and beyond that when Aviva Premiership Rugby returns.

“It was a very special moment to play against the Falcons for my first start, considering I spent four years there,” he said.

“The first five minutes I was definitely a bit nervous, I wanted to show them as my former club what they are missing, to impress my new coaches, and with the crowd as well.

“But I felt like I adjusted and adapted after that and settled into the game.

“When I first came to Saints, my chat with Jim (Mallinder) made it clear that this season I would have to focus on playing at nine, that was the skill area they wanted me to work on with this autumn period in mind.

“I have been working hard on my basics, my passing, my kicking and then things like game awareness, the space around the ruck and my understanding of mauls, it’s been a lot of time with the video.

“So this first year is about seeing what position is best for me, at the moment the team need me at nine but hopefully I will get some chances at ten as well.

“But at the end of the day it will come down to what position they think I can go further in, but in the meantime adding another string to the bow is great for me.”

And while Hodgson is happy to admit that in the long term he would prefer to line up with the No.10 on his back, for the moment he has his fingers crossed that international selection keeps him involved with the Saints first team.

Dickson was released back to Saints this week after training with England but Fotuali’i is likely to miss some time with Samoa in action during the autumn.

“I just need Stuart Lancaster and the Samoan coach to pick them both (Dickson and Fotuali’i) this autumn,” he added. “That would be great for them first and foremost and they deserve it.

“But it also gives me the chance to start more games, hopefully in the Premiership as well, which would be a fantastic opportunity for me.

“To be honest, if you were to bend my arm and I had to choose I would say I want to play ten, I love it there.

“But at the end of the day as long as I am playing, I would play absolutely anywhere.”

For your definitive guide to the LV= Cup click here

Be part of the rugby family at the LV= Cup Final at Franklin's Gardens, Northampton on Sunday 22 March. Visit www.northamptonsaints.co.uk for tickets

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