Joel Hodgson is returning to his hometown club after agreeing to become a Newcastle Falcons player for the second time.
The versatile 23-year-old joins from Greene King IPA Championship side Yorkshire Carnegie, for whom he has scored five tries in his 20 appearances this season, having spent the previous year with Northampton Saints.
Able to operate at fly-half, scrum-half and full-back, Newcastle-born Hodgson was part of the Falcons side which lifted the Championship title in 2013, making 10 Aviva Premiership appearances for the club and a further 11 in the European Challenge Cup.
A former England international at both Under-19s and 18s age groups, Hodgson is delighted to have sealed his return to Kingston Park. He said: “This is a really exciting move for me, returning to the club I love and which I have supported from a young age.
“The Falcons have invested in a synthetic pitch since I was last there and, combined with the talented squad they are putting together, they are playing a style of rugby which is really enjoyable to watch and to be involved with. It was an absolute no-brainer for me when the opportunity arose.”
Insisting he has developed as a player and a character over the last two years, Hodgson said: “Absolutely. Dean Richards said to me when I left that I needed some time away from home – it has done me the world of good and I have matured as a person as well as developing my game.”
Unconcerned by what number he has on his back, the flamboyant game-breaker just wants to get back to doing what he does best – exciting the Kingston Park crowd.
Hodgson said: “I just want to play, and I don’t care where it ends up being.
“It’s no secret that I see myself as more of a fly-half, but I have spent time at both scrum-half and full-back over the last few years and it certainly can’t do any harm to have that experience under my belt. I’ll play wherever I am needed by the team, and it is an exciting time to be rejoining the Falcons with the high-tempo brand of rugby they are now showing.
“I have had my time away, I am in a better place now with more of a level head and I am absolutely committed to making this move a success.”
Richards echoed Hodgson’s positivity around the move, saying: “We have always known Joel was a talented fly-half, and when the chance came to bring him back to Kingston Park we were keen to make it happen.”
Hodgson becomes the Falcons’ fifth new signing for next season, following the arrivals of Leicester Tigers wing Vereniki Goneva, Jersey prop Sam Lockwood, England Sevens scrum-half Sam Egerton and Ealing back-five forward Harrison Orr. Season ticket memberships for 2016-17 are available now by calling 0871 226 6060.