Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

McCall hails Hodgson capture

Sale Sharks

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall believes the signing of England fly-half Charlie Hodgson represents a "major step" for the Aviva Premiership club.

Sarries confirmed that 30-year-old Hodgson will leave Sale, where he has spent his entire career, in the summer to begin a long-term contract with the Vicarage Road outfit.

And former Ulster boss McCall said: "As a club, we have been making massive strives over the past couple of years and the signing of Charlie Hodgson is another major step. He is a world-class player whose personality and ability ideally suits our environment. Charlie was wanted by many leading clubs, and we are delighted he has chosen to sign with Saracens.''

McCall, who has taken over from Brendan Venter after the South African chose to return to his homeland with his family following Sunday's 12-6 win over London Irish, will be hoping that Hodgson can provide Saracens with real authority and a clear first-choice number 10 as they continue to seek a first Premiership title.

The Londoners had rotated between Derick Hougaard and Alex Goode this season until the South African ruptured his Achilles tendon in October. Teenager Owen Farrell has filled the role in recent weeks with Goode restored to his more familiar role of full-back.

The move could also have consequences for recent signing Gavin Henson, who has voiced a desire to play at 10 since returning to the game from his self-imposed exile.

Hodgson joined Sale straight from university and has gone on to score a Premiership record 1,753 points for the Edgeley Park outfit, including the 13 he registered in their win over his future employers eight days ago.

His boot helped steer them to the league title in 2006 but the Sharks have endured some tough times since that peak and they currently lie 10th in the table having parted company with coach Mike Brewer two days before Christmas.

Hodgson made it clear in Sunday's statement announcing his intention to leave the north-west that he was looking for a new challenge.

"Irrespective of what has happened this season at the club I wanted a new challenge elsewhere,'' he said. "I am not getting any younger and wouldn't want to hang up my boots wondering whether I should have moved."

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