Josh Hodgson has taken the biggest step yet in his long road back from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.
The Canberra Raiders hooker has returned to the training paddock – running for the first time in almost 10 weeks.
NRL.com captured the first vision of the 28-year-old running since he suffered the injury while playing for England against Tonga in their World Cup semi-final win on November 25.
“To actually just pull the boots on and just have a steady jog around was a massive morale boost,” Hodgson told NRL.com.
“I think the mental side of things is probably the toughest part, especially the first few weeks when you can’t do a lot.
“It has been probably harder being at training having an injury than it was when I was at home and just relaxing and trying to ice.
“It’s been tough to watch. I think I’ve never craved to do fitness so much in my life.”
Hodgson suffered a setback in the first month of his recovery when he tore scar tissue from his hamstring – where the graft was taken to replace his ruptured ACL.
The Englishman wasn’t deterred by the slight complication and not only has his rehabilitation back on track, he’s now ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation.
Hodgson is hoping to return in July, up to a month earlier than initially feared.
“I’m normally a quick healer. I’m pretty thorough with my rehab and stuff like that,” Hodgson said.
“I’ve been trying to set my mind on seven and a half months and just keep plugging away at that.
“If I can get anything more than a handful of games, it’ll be a massive bonus for me.
“Once I get around that sixth-month mark … I’ve just got to listen to my body and also my mind.
“You can’t be going into a game being even five percent worrying about what’s going to happen to your knee or if you’re even a bit unsteady.
“I think it’s just important that I listen to my body. It’s such a serious injury.”