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Newcastle Knights recruit Trent Hodkinson adopts new mindset for 2016 NRL season

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For Trent Hodkinson, it’s a whole new ball game. At his previous clubs, Manly and Canterbury, the NSW Origin halfback was surrounded by superstar players and high expectations.

At the start of every season they were aiming not just to reach the play-offs but to win the ultimate prize.

Since joining the Newcastle Knights, however, he admits a different mindset is required.

Many of his teammates are rookies, with little or no first-grade experience, and the Knights are incumbent wooden spooners.

Moreover, if he was an important cog in the well-oiled machines at Brookvale and Belmore, suddenly he is very much the key component. Primary playmaker, goalkicker, and one of three co-captains.

It requires an adjustment in mindset, but one that he has embraced.

“You could say that,” he told The Newcastle Herald. “Obviously having a new coaching staff and a few new players, we’re at that rebuilding stage. The focus as a club is to get off the bottom of the ladder.

“We know it’s not going to be easy and it’s going to take time.  But as long as we’re improving each week, hopefully we can be back in the finals frame at the end of the year, which is always the goal.”

The 27-year-old, a veteran of 116 NRL games and six Origins, was confident the responsibility of being Newcastle’s go-to man would bring out the best in him, starting in Sunday’s season-opener against Gold Coast at CBus Stadium.

“I knew coming here I had to take on a bit more of a leadership role,” he said.

“Obviously at the Dogs, they had a lot of leaders in different ways.

“But look, I’m just coming here to help the Knights regain that winning mentality, I guess, and get them back to where they’ve been.

“With the 16 other blokes out there with me, it’s going to be a collective effort. So it’s about getting down to business with my new teammates and, collectively, as a group, helping this club rise again.”

Renowned for his ice-cool demeanour under pressure, Hodkinson said “there might be a couple of nerves” before his Newcastle debut, but mainly a sense of excitement.

The lack of expectation surrounding his new club – who are $101 premiership long shots and paying $4.50 to make the top eight – sits just fine with Hodkinson.

“I don’t look into it too much, but obviously you do come across it,” he said.

“That’s fine by us. We’re happy to fly under the radar and not attract too much focus. In saying that, we’re going to work extremely hard to turn things around.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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