Hodgson leaves Vikings with 'heavy heart'

Hodgson leaves Vikings with 'heavy heart' widnesvikings.co.uk

28th September 2017

Brett Hodgson says that he leaves Widnes Vikings with ‘a heavy heart’, as he heads back Down Under to take up a role with NRL side Wests Tigers for the 2018 season.

After three years with the Vikings, the ex-Wests Tigers, Huddersfield and Warrington full back departed for Australia following the team’s vital 12-10 victory over Catalans Dragons last weekend. 

The ex-New South Wales representative announced in July he would leave the Halton Stadium to return to a place where he is fondly remembered. Brett played fullback in the Tigers’ 2005 Grand Final winning team and is a ‘Life Member’, in recognition of his outstanding achievements with the club.

Speaking at the Widnes Vikings Academy Dinner, Brett said that although he loved his time at the Vikings, the offer to return was too hard to turn down. 

“It was a very good opportunity and something I had to consider very seriously,” he said.

“There are very few opportunities in the game, whether it be in England or Australia, and an opportunity came up to be assistant at West Tigers, as well as being head coach in the Intrust Super Premiership. 

“It’s similar to what I’m doing here but with the next level of men, above the Academy.”

During his time operating as Assistant Coach to Denis Betts at first team level, Brett also took on the role of Head Coach for the Vikings’ U19s side. With the opportunity to support both youth and senior players, Hodgson believes that his role at the Vikings provided the perfect proving ground for a future in coaching.

“It took me all of two seconds to say yes (to the role with Widnes Vikings)”

“I like working with the youth development part of rugby league, as you get to see the increase in ability and attitude and it’s superior to senior level. 

“I haven’t been involved in an environment before where I felt that pride at seeing somebody come through, and I’ve had that this year. So many young players have come through and excelled at the top level, and for me that was outstanding.”

The Club’s U19s have enjoyed great success during Brett’s tenure as Head Coach, working alongside Head of Youth Performance, Phil Finney.  The impact of their effort has been unmissable, with several players graduating from Academy to first team ranks.  

“The boys here are very adaptable and we pushed them hard this year.”

“When the lads went into the first team, we questioned whether they were ready for it, both physically and mentally. 

“But not only did they excel at that level, they proved to some of the older boys that the energy and effort that was required is similar to what they produce at Academy level. 

“I’m proud of every single one of them. It gives us, as an Academy system, a huge sense of pride. It’s the reward of hard work.”

With Denis Betts calling on several Academy players to support the team first team in an injury-hit season, the U19s were unable to replicate their impressive 2016 form that saw them reach the semi-finals. For Brett, however, their impact at senior levels tells the real story of their season. 

“Sometimes it’s hard to see past results but it’s not all about winning at this level,” he said.

“Our win/loss record was better last year, but in my opinion, we had a better team this year collectively.

“Our results have fluctuated, and there have been games that we should have won, but we didn’t for various reasons and disruptions.  

“But I would have it this way every day of the week. If we didn’t make the semi-finals because we had 6/7 of our lads in the first team environment, then we’ve done an outstanding job as an Academy.”

Hodgson, at 39-years of age, is still young in terms of his coaching career. He says that the experience he gained at the Vikings will be invaluable, as he heads for pastures new. 

“There are so many things that I’ve learned whilst I’ve been here,” he said.

“It’s a selfish thing for me (the move), as it’s a progression in my career and an opportunity to test myself further, and it’s something I’m looking forward to.  

“But I leave this place with a heavy heart. The opportunity I’ve had to start my coaching here was just superb and I’ve enjoyed every single minute.” 

Hodgson leaves Vikings with 'heavy heart' widnesvikings.co.uk