After England’s RLWC semi final victory over Tonga at the weekend, the northern hemisphere side are now preparing for a final against their old enemy Australia. However, they will be doing so without one of their regular starters and, in the eyes of coach Wayne Bennett, key players.
After fifteen minutes of Saturday’s match, hooker Josh Hodgson suffered a knee injury and, despite attempting to play on, was removed eight minutes later and didn’t return. It became clear shortly after full time that the Canberra number 9 had ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the 26 year old is now likely to be out for around nine months, much to the Raiders’ chagrin.
The NRL club’s CEO, Don Furner, told NRL.com that “We want a full report… it’s very, very disappointing, particularly for Josh. We also had Joe Tapine injured in the other game (quarter-final between New Zealand and Fiji), so it’s also hard on the club.” Such is their frustration, they are seeking a written report from the English medical staff to clarify the exact timeline of events regarding his treatment and, also, why he was allowed to play on after the initial injury – they are likely to question whether further damage was done during the eight minutes he played for following the damage.
In further frustrating news for the Raiders, they have now gone from four hookers to zero thanks to off season injuries and are likely to seek salary cap relief in order to field a specialist number nine come the 2018 season. Indeed, Papua New Guinea hooker Kurt Baptiste, the man who shared hooking duties with Hull born Hodgson last season, is likely to arrive in Super League – Warrington have been strongly linked – in order to ensure the Raiders remain within the salary cap although this, following Hodgson’s injury, may change. They feel that the NRL may back their plea for financial assistance due to the fact that he was injured on representative rather than club duties.
As for England, it is likely that St Helens’ hooker James Roby will earn his 31st international cap from the start in the RLWC final as they seek to beat the Australians at the Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, an outcome which may please some fans due to their belief that Roby is more effective than his Canberra counterpart and his tactical nous may well be one of the key reasons that England win – if they do.