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Page last updated at 17:56 GMT, Thursday, 16 December 2010

Newcastle Falcons' Joel Hodgson plays down regular spot

Joel Hodgson
Hodgson made his Falcons debut against Bourgoin in October.

Newcastle Falcons half-back Joel Hodgson has played down his chances of establishing himself as a first choice in the plans of head coach Alan Tait.

Hodgson, 18, is set to start Sunday's European Challenge Cup group game with Exeter Chiefs, with Micky Young, Hall Charlton and Chris Pilgrim absent.

"I'm not getting ahead of myself," Hodgson told BBC Newcastle.

"I'm fully aware that injuries have pushed me into the starting line-up, it's a bit early for me yet."

Hodgson, a former Royal Grammar School pupil and England Under-18 international, added: "If it didn't go our way, and I was playing, I wouldn't like to think what it would do to my confidence being part of something as big as that and not performing.

"I do think it's too early to be demanding that I am in those situations, so I am just concentrating on the 'A' team, and getting the odd start here and there at the minute."

The appointment of Tait as head coach last season has coincided with the rise of the Newcastle-born pivot, starting with a professional deal in June of this year, and followed swiftly by a professional debut in October's 22-16 European Challenge Cup victory over Bourgoin.

"This is why I would like to stay at the Falcons and I want to stay at the Falcons," added Hodgson, who has made three appearances for Falcons in the European Challenge Cup this season.

"Alan Tait assured me I would get this first team experience and a chance to test my abilities and develop as a player, and I feel that is what I'm doing physically and on the pitch.

"I'm learning off the likes of Jeremy Manning, Jimmy Gopperth, Micky Young and Chris Pilgrim, all these players are helping me develop, helping me read situations better, read the game better.

"I love it to bits here, hopefully it will continue for longer than just a year, I'm really enjoying it."

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