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Hodgson proud to lead Exiles again

With six rugby league appearances for NSW under his belt, few in England understand the importance of Origin rivalries as well as Brett Hodgson.
Hodgson proud to lead Exiles again
by NRL

(Att eds: Adds squad at bottom)

By Charlie Talbot-Smith

LONDON, June 15 AFP - With six rugby league appearances for NSW under his belt, few in England understand the importance of Origin rivalries as well as Brett Hodgson.

And the former Wests Tigers and Blues fullback reckons the chance to captain the Exiles when they take on England in St Helens this Saturday will be right up there with one of his biggest honours.

England are playing the Exiles in two mid-season fixtures in a bid to help them close the gap on Australia and New Zealand and turn the battle for the 2013 World Cup in England into a genuine three-cornered fight.

The Exiles are made up of overseas players in Super League and Hodgson will captain a team that includes two of his Warrington teammates, Joel Monaghan and Trent Waterhouse, both of them former Australian internationals.

And the 34-year-old Hodgson was adamant the Exiles would be going all out to put one over their English counterparts.

"The Exiles idea is a fantastic one that really succeeded last year," he said. "The guys in our team have all forged a really unique bond, it's not that surprising when you think about it.

"We all have left our home countries and travelled to the other side of the world so it's inevitable we click, we've got so much in common and we're very proud so we know what is at stake.

"From a personal point of view, just to be picked last year was special and we won, so to be captain this time around is a real privilege."

Former New Zealand head coach Daniel Anderson has seen several players withdraw from his Exiles squad through injury, including ex-Australia international Michael Monaghan, but he's confident they could repeat last year's win over England all the same.

"It's been difficult with injuries making players unavailable but we've settled on this squad and they've come together really well," said Anderson.

"We're confident that we have a team who can dig in and do well in the emotional component of the game.

"We've certainly got the talent. There are a lot of boys here who are keen to showcase what they've got."

England coach Steve McNamara has controversially included New Zealand-born halfback Rangi Chase, qualified for his adopted country on residency grounds, in his squad.

Last year, Chase was man-of-the-match when the Exiles beat England 12-6 at Leeds.

Huddersfield's Australian coach Nathan Brown slammed former Maori international Chase's inclusion in the England squad by saying: "If a duck quacks, it's a duck, it's not a cow.

"Rangi Chase is a good bloke and a good friend of mine. But Rangi Chase says 'bro' and has got Maori tattoos. That's because he is a Kiwi, he's not English."

But Chase, the 2011 Man of Steel with Castleford who is contemplating a move to Wigan, said he'd laughed off the criticism and added his commitment to England was all the stronger after his fiancee Libby recently gave birth to their son Tahi.

"All the boys were giving it to me about if a duck quacks," he said. "I know Browny quite well and I actually texted him saying that I'm not bothered about it.

"Look at the New Zealand team, look at the Australian team. They pick the best, who they think can do the job, whether they are born in Australia or New Zealand or not. If they do it, why can't everyone do it?

"I think I've got a good reason why I should be playing. My little boy is English and my fiancee is English. That doesn't make me English, I'm not saying that, but this is home for me now.

"I don't have the same accent but, no matter what happens, I'll be living here after my career has finished."

Brett Hodgson (capt), Joel Monaghan, Setaimata Sa, Daryl Millard, Francis Meli, Thomas Leuluai, Scott Dureau, Tony Puletua, Lance Hohaia, Jeff Lima, Willie Manu, Sia Soliola, Trent Waterhouse. Interchange: Anthony Laffranchi, Antonio Kaufusi, David Faalogo, David Faiumu, Epalahame Lauaki (one to be omitted).

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