Hodgson talks coming to Utah and facing NOLA
HERRIMAN, Utah — Much like most foreign national players, Joel Hodgson grew up without the thought of perhaps playing one day within the United States. But due to certain circumstances, namely the growth of Major League Rugby, Hodgson made his way across the Atlantic and couldn’t be happier with his decision.
Hodgson joined the Utah Warriors after spending significant time playing within the English Premiership, which has proved very beneficial to Warriors coach Greg Cooper and the rest of the Warrior squad.
“This team has been looking for someone with experience to control and conduct possession,” Cooper said. “So it’s really important, and we’re fortunate to have Joel and he’s playing well. The more his professionalism rubs off on others, the more he helps us to grow.”
Hodgson plays at the No. 10 position, which works as a sort of conductor of most formations and focus for the entire team, and has played a big role in the team’s early success on the season.
As for making the trek out to Utah, Hodgson, along with his wife Jessica and their dog, cruised across the Atlantic ocean before making stops in New York, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Kansas City and Denver ahead of their ultimate destination.
“I can honestly say of all the stays we’ve been on in our journey that Utah is by far the best,” Hodgson said. “You’ve got the mountains and the beautiful scenery, but the big thing is the people — not just the guys I deal with every day, but with people (everywhere). It’s such a friendly community. It’s a wonderful place to be.”
As for the decision to play in the MLR, Hodgson became excited for the opportunity after talks with his agent, among other factors.
“We’ve always wanted to experience a different culture,” Hodgson said. “Ten years ago the only two options for a guy from England were somewhere in the UK or France or Japan…But the MLR has come forward with leaps and bounds, and I think you’re going to see a lot of guys come over. It’s a fantastic country.”
The focus for the Warriors (2-1) turns toward the Nola Gold (1-3) this weekend as the team travels to New Orleans coming off a buy week which Cooper believes served his team well.
“What was really important is that we got a chance to refresh,” Cooper said. “We’ve now been here eight weeks together, so it was a good chance to get some energy back, as well. That was a great week for everyone to get away…I think the bye came at a good time.”
Both teams come into the match off what could easily be considered their best performances on the year, with Utah taking a 14-10 road win over the Chicago Hounds and NOLA notching a resounding 31-5 victory over the New York Ironworkers.
“Nola doing what they did against New York is actually a blessing in disguise,” Hodgson said. “They’ve always been capable, and if you watch the three games prior to that, they were in those games up until the last 20 or 30 minutes. They’re a good outfit.”
For the Warriors, the focus heading into the match will be putting forth the offensive prowess they showed in a 33-25 win over the Dallas Jackals and match it with the stellar defense shown in the win over the Hounds.
“If we perform the way we can, and if we get that 80 minute performance…then I’m pretty confident about what these guys can do,” Hodgson said. “But we have to be on our A game because NOLA is a strong team.”
UTAH WARRIORS VS. NOLA GOLD
DATE: SATURDAY, MARCH 18
TIME: 1:00 PM MST
WHERE: THE GOLD MINE, NEW ORLEANS, LA.
BROADCAST: KMYU, TRN, ESPN700, KSLSPORTS.COM
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