The Western Force have announced the re-signing of club stalwart Matt Hodgson for the 2017 Super Rugby season.
The openside flanker and three-time Nathan Sharpe Medal winner - who along with Pek Cowan - are the last inaugural players of the Western Force, will head into his 12th season with the club .
"It’s great to put pen to paper and I’m thrilled to be here for another season," Hodgson told the Force's official website.
"I always wanted to keep playing at the Force and as long I’m adding value I want to be a part of this team."
The 131-capped veteran says the recent signing of players and coaches are exciting developments for the club.
"We’re going in a new direction, which is fantastic," added Hodgson.
"Having a world-class coaching group with different skill sets and different areas of expertise is great.
"I’ve played with Shaun Berne, and know that he has an excellent mind for the game and the experience of Alan Gaffney goes without saying."
In the coming years, Hodgson will look towards the end of his incredible career with the club he started with, and transition into a skills coaching position- something he has always wanted to do.
"I guess you could say this contract is in two parts, one being the playing aspect and the second moving into a coaching position and being part of the club in that way for a long time into the future," he said.
"It’s something as a club we are looking at; trying to get players more involved in different aspects of rugby as a business and coaching genuinely excites me.
"I want to become a mentor to the younger players coming through, to be a sounding board for transitioning players and hopefully push them into long successful careers here in Western Australia."
As part of this progression, Hodgson will do more hands-on coaching next year and be officially part of the coaching structure from 2018.
This dual player/coach role formalises something Hodgson has already been doing for a long time - working collaboratively with the coaches, providing integral insight into the match day player experience and opposition analysis, that is second to none.
"I’ve already worked closely with the coaching team over the last four years and to do this in a more official way with ‘Blood’ (Force head coach Dave Wessels) and the other coaches is a great opportunity," explained Hodgson.
"I’m confident we can develop a style of play that will get the best from our players and be truly entertaining for the Sea of Blue to watch."
Because of the additional responsibilities, of his new role Hodgson has requested to step aside as matchday captain; allowing a new captain to be appointed in due course. The decision also gives Hodgson the opportunity to pass on some of the knowledge he’s accrued during his time at the helm. He will remain an integral part of the leadership group that has worked hard to create and maintain a culture of high values and standards.
Wessels says that Hodgson’s signing is another big step forward for the club.
"’Hodgo’s the life and soul of this place," he said.
"He’s been here from day one, and I think when many people think of the Western Force they associate that with Matt Hodgson.
"For us, as an organisation it’s just a fantastic thing to have him recommit, I don’t think there was any doubt in Hodgo’s mind that he wanted to stay.
"In fact what has taken a little bit longer to finalise is that we want him to stay longer - post his playing days. The idea is we want to build a legacy at this club with the people that are important to us, and Matt is exactly the type of person that we want to hold onto long-term.
"I heard a great story about Matt; when the Force were founded and had only one spot left in the squad, there were two players interviewed for the position. One of them was ‘Hodgo.'
"After the meeting, Hodgo sent a text to then coach John Mitchell and said 'Regardless of who you pick I appreciate you taking the time to chat with me. But - if you do pick me - I will never let you down' And he’s been true to his word – he’s never let us down."