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Hodge: Decision came down to family

Hodge excited about young talent Luke and Leo Hodge sit down for a chat with Matt Thompson

Luke Hodge’s decision to come out of retirement and play for the Brisbane Lions rested solely on his family’s reaction on relocating to Queensland.

His former Hawthorn colleague and now Brisbane Senior Coach, Chris Fagan, had earlier planted the seed of perhaps playing on for another two years.

“Fages [Chris Fagan] has been a mentor of mine for a number of years,” Hodge told AFL Media.

“I guess he always knew deep down that I love football. I’ll probably want to still play football when I’m 50.”

Hodge was keen to explore the Brisbane opportunity, but would first need to convince wife Lauren and sons Cooper, Chase and Leo on a move to the Sunshine State.

“I think people were more shocked because it was out of the blue,” he explained.

“People look at it more because it was at the end of my career and they think I should settle down. But so many people pack up their families and move around.

“You’ve always got to make sure the family is comfortable with it.  And Lauren was really supportive. I guess that was the first barrier to tick.”

Lauren had never been to Brisbane until recently, while Hodge has not played at the Gabba since 2008.

The opportunity to pull the boots back on and act as an on-field coach for the young Lions squad proved too tempting.

Coaching remains front of mind as a career path post-footy for Hodge, despite gaining experience in the media with Channel 7 and Triple M during the 2017 season.

“What I did last year with the younger Hawthorn defenders really appealed to me. From what I’ve heard, once you take a step out of football, even if it’s two years, the game evolves so fast, it’s very hard to catch back up,” Hodge said.

“I sort of thought, while I’m in the game I can still play and do what I love by playing but also see if I want to pursue coaching in the future.”

With more than 305 games and four premierships at Hawthorn to his name, the Lions’ players now have a well of knowledge to tap into.

“One thing going through the journey I’ve been through, I’ve probably been in the same position as a lot of the younger players there,” he said.

“Whether that’s being a high draft pick, having to move away from home, whether they’ve struggled in their first three or four years, because I definitely did.”

Hodge was selected with the number 1 pick at the 2001 AFL Draft and went on to captain the Hawks in their three-peat era between 2013-15.

Speaking from experience, he knows how challenging the role of Captain can be, so will help Lions Captain Dayne Beams this year.

“You’re trying to do everything yourself… you need someone there to bounce something off. I think that’s one of the most important things for a captain to have,” he said.

Hodge will join his new teammates on Monday November 20th, with the whole squad back for pre-season.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs