Raiders praise selfless Hodgson
Suspended Canberra hooker Josh Hodgson has been praised by Raiders teammates for his selfless decision to sit out their Round 24 clash against the Eels on Sunday afternoon.
Hodgson was cited for a grade one dangerous contact – head/neck charge on Melbourne's Jesse Bromwich in the Raiders' 14-point win last Monday.
An early guilty plea from the English international would have allowed him to face the Eels at the cost of 75 carryover points.
Instead Hodgson pleaded no contest and copped the base penalty of 100 carryover points which equals a week's suspension.
Hodgson's decision to take the week off, have no carryover points to his name and not risk future judiciary drama in the finals may come at a cost however in the form of the 2016 Dally M Medal.
When voting went behind closed doors in late June, Hodgson was two points off the pace with Melbourne duo Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk, Titans prop Ryan James and Cowboys wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo all tied on 16 points.
Hodgson's hooker replacement Kurt Baptiste applauded the 26-year-old for his team-first mentality.
"It's going to be a big loss for us with Hodgo missing for the game because he's one of our leaders. It's hard to replace someone like that," Baptiste said.
"He's put the team first over any individual accolades he may receive at the end of the year. That's the kind of guy he is to put us the team first.
"It didn't come as a surprise either. We need him come finals time and if he had those carryover points and slipped up just a little bit once then he would've been gone, so it was a smart move on his behalf.
"It's a great opportunity for me and a great challenge to get some match fitness back under my belt and play a few more minutes than I have been lately," Baptiste added, after returning from a foot injury against Melbourne. "I'm confident I can do the job."
The Raiders sit third on the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder and will be out to avenge their 36-6 loss to the Eels back in Round 6.
Almost 16,000 people turned out at GIO Stadium to watch the Raiders smash the Storm, such is the hype surrounding the green machine.
Canberra winger Brenko Lee said it was up to the squad to use the fans' hysteria in a constructive manner.
"All the boys take all the hype surrounding us into training, knowing that we have to train well and prepare well for the last couple of weeks," Lee said.
"Recently the team have been doing that really well and that hype is what we're carrying on to the footy field.
"We're heading into games confident knowing full well that the only team that can beat us is ourselves. We're feeding off that."