Why Castleford Tigers are Josh Hodgson's second favourite Super League club
Canberra Raiders co-captain Hodgson has been a regular on the international stage ever since debuting against Samoa in the 2014 Four Nations.
The 30-year-old left Hull KR for a new life in Australia following that tournament and has gone on to become not only a star of the NRL but also amass 19 England caps and play a further three Tests with Great Britain.
Former Man of Steel winners James Roby and Daryl Clark are regulars with him in the England camp but the trio have now been joined by Castleford’s uncapped McShane who was called up to Shaun Wane’s first selection in March.
McShane, also aged 30, has been one of Super League’s best No9s for the last few seasons, proving so integral to Daryl Powell’s Tigers side as they won the League Leaders’ Shield in such style in 2017.
He started this campaign brilliantly, too, and topped the Steve Prescott Man of Steel leaderboard before the shutdown.
Overlooked by previous national boss Wayne Bennett, the former Leeds Rhinos star looks likely to get a shot under Wane.
“As a kid, I came through Yorkshire camps and everything with Macca as he’s the same age as me,” said Hull-born Hodgson, who is older by just 19 days.
“He is a great player. He’s a really good kid and I’ve always really rated Macca as a player so it was nice seeing him playing so well for Cas before all this (Covid-19) went on.
“Hopefully he keeps on and carries on again.
“But my nephew - Bailey Hodgson - is in the Castleford first-team squad at the minute as well so I’ve probably got a second team in England now.
“I like Hull KR to do well and then Cas so I always look out for those two now.
“Hopefully Macca turns it on and hopefully my nephew can get a game this year as well. Who knows?”
Full-back Bailey Hodgson debuted for England Youth in their win against France last summer and is well-thought of at Wheldon Road.
At 17, he is still young enough to play for Castleford’s Under 18s but has impressed when training with the club’s Super League players and - though yet to play - has twice been named in their 21-man squad this term.
Meanwhile, one of the sport’s all-time greats - former Kangaroos scrum-half Andrew Johns - recently hailed Josh Hodgson as the third best Englishman to ever play in the NRL, behind only Adrian Morley and his No1 Sam Burgess.
Johns told NRL on Nine: “When he signed for Canberra I actually didn’t know much about him but I was blown away by his performances.
“He is a half-back who plays in dummy-half and his form has been right up there with Cameron Smith – if not maybe better on occasions.
“They’ve a real chance of winning the competition this year on the back of him.”
Hodgson, who helped Canberra to their first Grand Final in 25 years last season, said: “Obviously it’s nice to hear a compliment from anyone that’s done what ‘Joey' Johns has in the game.
“He’s done it all and will probably go down as the best player to ever play the game so whenever you get a compliment from a bloke like that it’s always nice to hear
“Hopefully we can kick on this year once we get going again, have a good year and hopefully go one better than what we did last year.”