Hodgson set for second 'debut'
February 2, 2012
Charlie Hodgson in action for Saracens © PA Photos
Saracens fly-half Charlie Hodgson says he is treating Saturday's Calcutta Cup clash against Scotland as his second England debut.
Hodgson made his true Test debut in November 2001 as England thrashed Romania 134-0, with the No. 10 scoring 44 points. However, after being something of a forgotten man since he took part in a horror tour of New Zealand four years ago, Hodgson is now prepared for his shot at redemption.
"It does feel like a debut," said Hodgson. "I feel very proud to be given the opportunity to be involved. Who knows where it goes? I have learned not to look too far ahead and focus on what is going on in the next few days.
"It is pleasing just to be back in the squad first and foremost. There have been times when things have gone well and when they haven't gone well in an England shirt so to be back is a good thing for me.
"It was a case of always working hard and never losing belief in my own ability. The fact that I have gone through those times and come out the other side is a sign of character."
Hodgson also believes time away from the international arena has allowed him to develop the physical side of his game. The 31-year-old is expecting plenty of traffic to be aimed in his direction by the Scotland side, but says he is ready for the challenge.
"I have tried to improve what is one of the weaknesses of my game, it has improved and I have enjoyed it,' said Hodgson. 'If I have to spend more time doing that than anything else to make sure it is up to scratch, I can cope with that. Being in a good defensive system at Saracens has helped with that."
Hodgson is expected to be named as starting fly-half in the absence of Toby Flood, with three of his Saracens team-mates - Brad Barritt and Owen Farrell and David Strettle - also likely to feature in the back-line.
"We have a good understanding already," said Hodgson. "Brad has been one of the most consistent performers for Saracens in the last two years. He always gets over the gainline in attack and is very, very strong defensively.
"Owen has proved what temperament he has for such a young guy. He has got a really mature head on his shoulders, he is very enthusiastic and very studious and always wants to learn. His knowledge of the game is very good and I have enjoyed listening to him and what he has had to say about the game."
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