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The 'joke' text that started the Hodge coup

Ben Collins, AFL.com.au  October 23, 2017 10:03 AM

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Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan has revealed the recruiting coup that landed Hawthorn great Luke Hodge started with a light-hearted text message before Hodge's 300th game in round 17.

Hodge, 33, retired at season's end after 305 games and four premierships with the Hawks but caused a sensation when he announced plans to make a comeback for the Lions where he would be reunited with former Hawthorn football director Fagan. 

The deal was completed on Thursday when Hawthorn sent Hodge and its draft pick No.44 to the Lions in exchange for picks 43 and 75.

Fagan said the seed was planted three months ago and was soon followed up by Hodge.

"I'd always thought all year we needed a few more experienced heads out there on the oval, but I didn’t for one minute think it would be 'Hodgey'," Fagan told the Sunday Tasmanian.

"In fact it was around his 300th game I sent him a text – 'If you get to the end of the year and you feel like you want to keep going it is nice and warm up here, mate. We need an on-field assistant coach type person.'

"I even gave it the old 'ha ha' at the end of it, so just joking. And a couple of weeks later he sent me a text saying he might be interested in chatting about that."

The idea was put on the backburner until Hodge announced his retirement and play what was meant to be his last game in the final round win over the Western Bulldogs.

"It turned out he was still interested, so it transpired from there," Fagan said.

"I must admit it happened pretty innocently in the first instance; it was more me having a bit of a joke."

Fagan said he hoped Hodge, who has signed a two-year deal, could play about 15 games a season.

"We know he's past his best but he can play a role for us in the backline and organise on field, which is great," Fagan said.

"There are no expectations he is going to come in and play the whole season. Probably around that 15 game mark, probably avoid the long trips. We'll just see how he goes. If it is 10 it's 10. It is whatever it is.

"He's with us for two years and he's a great resource for our players on and off the field."

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