Canberra Raiders junior Haydon Hodge has made the decision to retire from elite level competition due to a chronic knee injury.
Hodge (23) trained with the Raiders during the pre-season on a train and trial contract and was impressive in both the Auckland Nines and the Raiders first trial match, but has made the decision not to pursue a contract with the club.
After rupturing the ACL in his left knee in 2011 and injuring his Patella tendon in 2013 Hodge took a year off in 2014 to concentrate on his rehabilitation and was offered a pre-season contract with the Raiders in 2015 where he re-joined the NRL squad.
Hodge said he knew after the trial match on the weekend in Griffith that his knee wouldn’t be up to the rigours of week in week out training and playing, so he’s made the decision to retire from elite level competition.
“It’s been a really tough road through the recovery process in attempting to come back from the knee injuries and I know I’ve given it everything I could to give myself a chance of making a comeback to professional footy,” Hodge said. “The reality is though that my knee is not up to the heavy workload you need to compete at NRL level so I’ve made the decision not to continue on with the Raiders as a player.
“The club’s been absolutely wonderful over the past two years while I’ve dealt with my injuries, they didn’t have to give me another shot but they did and I can walk away now knowing I’ve given it everything I had and I can be proud of the effort I put in.”
Hodge said he will continue to work with the Raiders junior development program and will look to build on his studies which he undertook while at the club as he settles on a new career path.
“Last year I did some coaching with the Raiders juniors and I’m really keen to stay involved with the Raiders development squads,” Hodge said. “I’ve been able to complete a Business Diploma and a Certificate 3 in fitness while I’ve been with the club and I’m looking at doing a certificate 4 in fitness now as I look to set myself up for a career after footy.”
Hodge will also continue to play rugby league and has already indicated he’s looking at a few options locally for the 2015 season.
“I’m talking to a few clubs at the moment about playing in the Canberra Raiders Cup and I’ll probably make a decision on where I play over the next couple of weeks.”
Raiders Football Manager John Bonasera said Hodge’s application and work ethic were outstanding all pre-season and he can be proud of all he’s achieved.
“There was never any doubt in Haydon’s application to his training and the work he put in just to give himself an opportunity is something he can be very proud of,” Bonasera said. “its great news that he wants to stay involved in the clubs junior development programs as he’s the perfect example of the type of commitment and attitude we’re looking to bring out of our younger players.
“We certainly wish him all the best for the future and he can walk away from the elite level knowing he gave it everything he had. We would like Haydon to remain involved with the club and there are opportunities for him with our junior squads which will hopefully provide him with a pathway for the future. ”