The teenager grew up playing multiple sports and is known for his accurate goalkicking
Newcastle and England U20 full-back Josh Hodge
How did you get into rugby?
At primary school, when I was nine. Then I went to Sedbergh School on a sports scholarship – it was a joint running and rugby one, although I hadn’t played much rugby.
Did you play other sports?
I was quite football-focused and was in the Preston North End Academy from age seven, but going to Sedbergh meant I couldn’t make training. I played a bit of Sunday league, but when I got picked up by the Falcons in lower sixth I stopped football.
What positions have you played?
Back three. I’ve played ten a few times but it didn’t go so great. I prefer full-back as it gives me more time on the ball and there’s a lot more decision-making; I like the pressure. I don’t mind wing either.
What are your strengths?
Kicking is a big part of my game. I love it. I’ve had hip problems from kicking too much and it has been a learning curve. I now have a routine and look after my body better. I’d also say I’m elusive runner – the coaches say I’m unpredictable.
Who’s been the biggest influence on you?
Definitely my parents. They make every effort to come and support me.
What’s been your career highlight?
The U20 World Cup. As a team it didn’t go the way we wanted, but just to be top in some of the stats is a confidence boost.
You got 24 kicks out of 24…
Yes. And I believe if you go back to the miss I had in the Italy Six Nations game it’s 40 from 40! You’ve got to respect every kick.
What are your goals for this season?
To improve my all-round game, increase my confidence and to take my opportunities.
What do you do away from rugby?
I started a sports coaching degree at Newcastle University last year. I don’t know if I’ll carry on as it’s hard with training as well, but I want to make sure I have options.
I also like clay pigeon shooting – I did GB U21 at 15 – and will do a session with my dad.
RW VERDICT: David Beckham and Jonny Wilkinson were his childhood heroes, and he is certainly replicating the latter in terms of his form from the tee. The Championship is a great competition for this teenager to gain first-team experience with Newcastle.
This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of Rugby World magazine.
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