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Warrington Wolves full back Brett Hodgson seeking cup redemption against old club Huddersfield Giants
BRETT Hodgson will be hoping for Challenge Cup redemption when he takes to the field against former club Huddersfield Giants on Sunday.
The captain of Huddersfield's 2009 cup final side that lost to Warrington, he knows all too well the pain of falling at the final hurdle in rugby league’s historic knockout compet-ition, but admits that makes him all the more det-ermined to help Wolves retrace the steps they took in 2009 and 2010.
“It was terrible to be on the losing side of a massive final like that,” said the 34-year-old Aussie.
“To actually play at Wembley at all was huge and it was some-thing that I was just proud to be a part of.
“No one expected us to get as far as we did, so the actual achievement of reaching the final at all was beyond anything anyone had expected of us.
“But to get there and lose in the manner in which we did was gut-wrenching really.
“The ambition now is to retrace the steps the club took in 2009 and 2010.
“We are one game away from reaching Wembley again, which is a huge incentive, but we are still up against a side who are as good as anyone in the competition on their day.” The former State of Origin full back and current Exiles captain was instrumental to that Huddersfield side’s success in 2009, scoring three tries and 10 goals while leading them through their four Challenge Cup games.
He even scored eight of the Giants’ 10 points in the final itself, but when he moved to Warrington some of his new teammates were keen to remind him of how he had helped them achieve their first Challenge Cup success in almost 40 years.
“I was actually the person who got a kick charged down by one of the guys, though I can’t remember who it was, so there are lots of little snipes about it,” said the 2009 Man of Steel, whose clearing kick was actually charged down by Louis Anderson and led to Wolves’ opening try of the match.
“It was definitely something that came up when I moved.
“The guys that played that day still give it to me now that they beat us in that game, which is all in good fun I suppose!
“I got the last laugh and the bragging rights by coming over to The Halliwell Jones Stadium and beating them in the play-offs the next year, but I would have taken Wembley victory over that one, no doubt.”
Now, in the twilight of his career, Hodgson is close to a second chance of Challenge Cup glory - perhaps the last chance he will have - and though he is taking nothing for granted, his previous experience tells him that a second bite at the cherry can make success all the sweeter.
“I daresay you appreciate it more if you get a second chance,” he said.
“I know because that is what happened with Wests Tigers in 2005 in the NRL (Australia’s rugby league competition).
“I lost in the Grand Final with Parramatta and then went on to win with the Tigers, so to lose it once and achieve it on the second go makes you appreciate it more.
“But that is only if we are fortunate enough to beat Giants and progress to the final.”
Huddersfield’s Super League form has left much to be desired in recent weeks, with Nathan Brown’s side winning just one of their eight matches since the end of April.
But Hodgson, who has a better understanding of former boss Brown’s methods than most, is in no doubt that Giants will have been training with this make-or-break match in mind for the previous few weeks.
And dreaming of a return to Wembley may be all well and good, but he admits there is one more ‘final’ Wolves have to worry about before letting themselves get drawn into thinking about London.
“In a knockout competition you have to take it one game at a time,” he said.