Sea Eagles hope to play Hodkinson against Storm
Trent Barrett is hopeful Trent Hodkinson's return to Manly could be finalised as soon as Monday in a bid to have the veteran halfback ready for Saturday's away clash against premiers Melbourne.
Hodkinson is set to take up an 18-month deal with the Sea Eagles after Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan gave his blessing for him to link with his third club in just four months.
The 29-year-old has provided handy halves back-up for the Sharks since arriving from Newcastle in February, but Flanagan won't stand in Hodkinson's way with Manly offering him a contract for 2019.
Flanagan, who initially stated a week ago he wasn't in the business of helping Manly out of a bind, did qualify that by saying if Hodkinson came to him with a long-term offer he would consider it.
"And that's what has happened," Flanagan told NRL.com as Hodkinson was only signed for 12 months at the Sharks.
"We always said if he got an extended deal we would allow him to take it. Two years at Manly is that so we thank him for his contribution to our club and team and wish him well," Flanagan said.
"Trent is a quality person and that was always the agreement between him and the Sharks."
Hodkinson's departure also means his son, 19-year-old halfback Kyle Flanagan, moves further up the pecking order. He is yet to make his NRL debut but was edging ahead of Hodkinson - the pair playing alongside each other for Newtown in Intrust Super Premiership.
"We all agree that Kyle would play before him (Hodkinson) next time if injury or form presented itself," Flanagan told NRL.com.
Hodkinson played four games for the Sharks, when injury struck Matt Moylan and Josh Dugan earlier this year.
Hodkinson's arrival on the Northern Beaches almost certainly ensures the out-of-favour Jackson Hastings won't get a first-grade run for the club.
Should the contract be signed off in good time, Barrett declared he would not hesitate in slotting Hodkinson straight into his 17 against the Storm.
"I'm hoping that should get done today," Barrett told the Big Sports Breakfast on Monday morning.
"If we get him in early enough this week we'll have two (field training) sessions this week.
"The way we play and with his role in the team, he's an experienced player and it'd be a pretty seamless I think.
"But I'll make that decision once he gets in here, but it is a possibility."
Hodkinson's homecoming would see him link once more with Manly, who he debuted with in 2010 before joining Canterbury and rising to NSW Origin honours in 2014. He also won his first representative jersey - City Origin - with the Sea Eagles.
NRL.com understands that Manly is picking up the entire value of the remainder of Hodkinson's 2018 contract.
The Sea Eagles have been sizing Hodkinson up for some time as a replacement for Blake Green, missing out on his signature to Cronulla earlier this year due to their ongoing salary cap saga.
Lachlan Croker's season-ending ACL rupture and Hastings' falling out with the club have decimated Barrett's already thin playmaking stocks.
But with Hodkinson set to fill the final spot in Manly's 30-man senior roster, reluctant five-eighth Dylan Walker will return to the centres while skipper Daly Cherry-Evans will now have an experienced foil at the scrum base.
"We did try and get Hodko earlier in the season and it got vetoed by the salary cap dramas," Barrett said.
"Fingers crossed that that will happen today. He'll give us another older player in the joint.
"He'll give us a steady head, he brings a really good kicking game and a level of calmness to the team."