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Hodkinson takes unorthodox pre-season path

AAP logoAAP 23/12/2016 Laine Clark

So far ex-NSW halfback Trent Hodkinson has been a no-show on the Newcastle pre-season training paddock.

But the Knights playmaker insists he will return for the 2017 NRL season better than ever thanks to precautionary maintenance on his troublesome knee.

Hodkinson largely got through the 2016 unscathed without a recurrence of lingering knee issues, playing 23 games in his debut season for Newcastle.

However it did not stop Hodkinson taking a radical new pre-season approach to strengthen his knees - not that you could tell by watching the Knights training field.

Hodkinson has trained in the gym away from the main group for the Knights pre-season to date - an approach that has been a success, albeit a little lonely.

"It's different doing the hard yards when you're not with the other boys," Hodkinson told Knights TV.

"I'd love to be out on the paddock with the boys, but that will have to wait until after Christmas.

"This first eight weeks was all about building that leg strength so come the season I'll be ready to go and focused fully on footy, not the body."

Hodkinson has had a long running battle with knee issues, even undergoing stem cell therapy in 2014.

"I have been indoors doing the bike, lower leg weights and upper body to maintain leg strength without doing too much kilometres on the field," Hodkinson said.

"I have been doing fitness in other way, just being smart, a bit of maintenance.

"It's about management but also making sure I start next year good to go."

Newcastle will be sweating on a fit Hodkinson in 2017 after collecting two consecutive wooden spoons.

Hodkinson will also be out to reclaim his NSW No.7 jersey after relinquishing it in 2016.

He played all six Origins from 2014-15, scoring the match winning try to seal NSW's drought breaking series win two years ago.

Hodkinson has since made himself available for England selection under new coach Wayne Bennett ahead of the 2017 World Cup.

Newcastle started their Christmas break on Wednesday after easing in new recruits Rory Kostjasyn of North Queensland and Manly duo Jamie Buhrer and Josh Starling.

"As a whole, we feel like we are certainly a long way ahead of where we were last year," Knights coach Nathan Brown said.

They resume training on January 4.

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