Trent Hodkinson may look like a young surf grommet from North Narrabeen, but this is the sandy-haired kid who could soon be guiding around one of the best and richest forward packs in rugby league.
Wants a shot at halfback...Manly's Trent Hodkinson. Picture: Gregg Porteous Source: The Daily Telegraph
He is in a two-way battle with Kieran Foran to secure the Manly halfback position vacated by captain Matt Orford, who has moved on to England to play for Bradford.
Hodkinson, a former Parramatta lower grader, trained strongly on Tuesday at Narrabeen while Foran was missing through injury. The pair will have a final trial match shoot-out against the Warriors in 11 days before coach Des Hasler names his new No.7.
Hasler is also conducting internal interviews about his new captain, expected to be Jamie Lyon.
Hodkinson starred for the premiership-winning Sunshine Coast in the Queensland Cup side last year and appears confident and skilled.
Hasler was, as usual, giving little away on Tuesday but would not rule out starting both rookies in the halves for his side's round one match against Wests Tigers.
"There is a lot of depth there with Kieran Foran, Jamie Lyon, Trent Hodkinson and Daly Cherry-Evans," Hasler said.
"There is a process we are working through. It's all about opportunity and they have to step up to the mark. Jamie is an option in the halves but he's also a handy centre.
"The team has to get used to Matt not being here and getting on with the job."
Lyon is a Test centre but Manly also has Ben Farrar and Steve Matai in the three-quarters. Farrar can play wing but the Sea Eagles have Michael Robertson and David Williams.
Asked how it felt without Orford, Manly's 2008 premiership-winning skipper, forward George Rose said: "It's different. The average height has certainly gone up. He is missed but the young fellows are doing a good job at training."