Sandra Mu

Devil's Titanic Support

ON FRIDAY night Michael Hodgson was providing the go-forward that helped the Gold Coast Titans secure a vital NRL away victory over Parramatta.

On Sunday morning, he was helping old friend and house-mate, Nathan Cross, prepare Byron Bay for their first round in over Marist Brothers in the Retravision Northern League.

"I just set out a few of the markers for the warm-up," the 103kg front rower said.

"I came down to support 'Crossy' and meet a few of the boys.

"Byron Bay has put a lot of work into their game, you can see it. They were on a surface that was very hard to play on and they put a couple of set plays together and held onto the ball.

"They've got a good halves combination, Tobin (Cupples) and Jared (De Thierry), and created a few opportunities."

Despite being impressed with the work his former school boy representative and Parramatta team-mate Cross had done as the new Red Devils' coach, Hodgson said he had no plans to give up the spotlight and play locally.

Instead the 134-game veteran was focusing on Friday's top-of-table and local derby clash with the Brisbane Broncos.

"It's definitely going to be a big match," he said. "We live within an hour of each other and there is a fair bit of interest and supporters around. I think it will be great for the game and great for us. It will be a capacity stadium but (despite their form) they're just another team.

"If we want to go well we have to perform against every team. At first grade level, every week is hard. I just have to do the best that I can."

Injury concerns

After moving from Canberra, Hodgson's 2007 season with the Titans was hampered by injury as he managed 13 matches.

He started this season as first-choice partner to Luke Bailey in the front row before injuring his foot and missing rounds three and four.

He returned last week and impressed with his work-rate, gaining 88 metres and making 22 tackles in 39 minutes of game time.

And with Bailey out for up six weeks with a fractured wrist, Hodgson has great opportunity to cement his place in the starting line-p.

"We've got about seven or eight front rowers who want that other jersey (opposite Bailey)," Hodgson said.

"There is a lot of competition ... I don't think you can afford to be comfortable. I just do what I'm told to do each week. I don't think about losing my spot. I'm just enjoying it while I've got it."

Despite the pressure, Hodgson said he loved being part of the Titans organisation.

"It is unbelievable ... the best decision I've made to move up here from Canberra," he said.

"The club, the coach, the players, all of the above are great.

"John Cartwright is a terrific coach. He teaches a lot of skill and free-flowing football which is showing in our games.

"With the players, unity is the key. We all try to work for each other whether on the ball or off the ball, we're giving each other options.

"There is a good vibe up here. We've created our own culture. It's definitely a great feeling."

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