Josh Hodgson’s plea to off-contract Canberra Raiders teammates

INJURED Raiders star Josh Hodgson could be the ace up Canberra’s sleeve in the fight to retain their halves pairing of Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin.

Hodgson plans to get in the ear of several off-contract teammates to try to convince them to stick around in the nation’s capital.

He signed a four-year extension with the club in November that will keep him in the lime green until the end of 2022.

But his fellow Canberra spine stars — Austin and Sezer — are yet to commit beyond 2018 and appear no certainty of staying put.

Towards the end of last season there were reports linking both players to rival clubs. Most recently the Daily Telegraph reported Canterbury is trying to lure Sezer to the kennel.

But Hodgson says the Raiders have a better chance of achieving sustained success if they can maintain a core group of players over a long period of time.

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Along with fullback Jack Wighton, the spine has been playing together since Sezer moved south from the Gold Coast two years ago.

If they stay together long-term Hodgson hopes they can replicate the success of the Melbourne Storm, who have been the competition benchmark for a number of years.

“The longer we’re all together and playing alongside each other the stronger we will be,” Hodgson told

“If we can keep a stable spine and keep everybody playing alongside each other that’s a great thing to have, as you’ve seen with Melbourne over the years.”

Coach Ricky Stuart has one of the best recruitment gurus in the game to help him manage his roster in Peter Mulholland.

But Hodgson plans to give the coaching and recruitment staff a hand in retaining a number of his teammates.

He revealed he will try to have a conversation with each of the off-contract players to convince them to get on board with him.

“I wouldn’t mind having that type of conversation, but what words I’d use I’m not too sure,” he said.

“I’m more than open in saying my feelings in wanting them all to stay, because there’s a few boys off contract this year and I’d love them all to stay.

“We’ve got a really close bond. It’s different being in Canberra, you all live 10 minutes away from each other.

“Everyone is pretty close, there’s no cliques or anything like that which I think is pretty rare in teams.

“All the boys seem really happy here so if we can stay together would be great.”

Hodgson has plenty of down time at the moment as he focuses on recovering from surgery to repair his ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

But he’s mindful of distracting his teammates from the task at hand, which is preparing for the 2018 NRL season.

Austin told last month he didn’t expect to sign a new contract before the start of the season.