Hodkinson's reaction to touching gesture
It was the night that had the rugby league community in an emotional mess after images emerged of Knights halfback Trent Hodkinson with Hannah Rye, a terminally ill teenager from Kurri Kurri, being escorted by the playmaker to her school formal.
The former NSW halfback met Hannah as part of Newcastle's 'Trent's kick for kids' program last year – an initiative that see's Hodkinson write the name of a child on his goal-kicking tee each week before meeting them after a game or spending some time with them at John Hunter hospital.
Hannah was in remission following a battle with Ewing Sarcoma - a rare form of cancer in young children. In unfortunate circumstances, the Rye family recently received news of its return and Hannah's case is now considered terminal.
Kurri Kurri High School worked behind the scenes with the Knights and Hodkinson to bring the formal forward to give the teenager an evening to never forget.
"We had a great night… she was the star of the show," Hodkinson said on Thursday at Knights training, with a smile from ear-to-ear.
"Although I kick for these kids, I like to stay in contact with them and I have done with Hannah.
"Her family got in contact recently with the club saying it wasn't good news so we worked some things out.
"The school moved the formal forward just for her and it was a great night, she did such a great job.
"She was so brave and she’s such a strong girl, you wouldn’t know she is going through this. It is the type of person she is and she brought a smile to my face."
The Knights released footage of the incredible evening via their club website on Thursday with Hodkinson arriving to the Rye's family home in a suit and bunch of flowers to greet the young teenager.
The pair then travelled together and were greeted by hundreds of people, while Hodkinson held her hand and helped her cut the cake to a huge applause.
"As soon as we got there all her friends were cheering for her and I just think they were really happy that she could go," Hodkinson said.
"She had a lot of photos with all her friends and everybody wanted to get some nice photos for her and it was a great night."
This type of community work is nothing new for Hodkinson and tends to go unnoticed with negative headlines in the media continuing to dominate the news.
The 28-year-old has been involved in several programs throughout his career and was named Newcastle's clubman of the year and a nominee for the Ken Stephen Medal last season.
While the Knights have struggled on the paddock in recent seasons and Hodkinson's form has come under the spotlight, there is no questioning their commitment to the community off the paddock.
It's why crowds in Newcastle continue to hold strong despite the side only winning three games in two years.
"I didn't expect this [media attention]… it has just taken off," Hodkinson said.
"I don't do it for recognition, I do it because I genuinely care.
"But it is such a good thing for Hannah and her family and what she's going through. Hopefully it can bring awareness to Ewing Sarcoma. It is a great way to bring awareness to that."
Rugby League fans from far and wide have applauded Hodkinson's involvement and encouraged leading journalists from mainstream media to follow suit with reporting on more stories of a similar nature.
"You just don't hear too much of the good stories," Hodkinson said.
"There are a lot of guys out there that do good things behind the scenes and there should be more of those stories than the bad ones."
Meanwhile, Hodkinson will play his 150th game in the NRL Telstra Premiership on Friday night when the Knights take on the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium.