Newcastle Knights halfback Trent Hodkinson says his recent reserve-grade stint was beneficial.

EXPERIENCE: Trent Hodkinson.
EXPERIENCE: Trent Hodkinson.

KNIGHTS playmaker Trent Hodkinson says he is back for the long haul after regaining form and confidence during his recent stint in reserve grade.

Hodkinson, Newcastle’s highest-paid player and until recently the club captain, spent five games in NSW Cup before he was recalled two weeks ago.

His performance in last weekend’s 20-18 loss to Canterbury was arguably his best since joining the Knights 18 months ago. As well as producing two try assists, he made 27 tackles and provided the direction Newcastle have lacked during their six-game losing streak.

The former NSW Origin halfback said he never lost self-belief when coach Nathan Brown relegated him from the top side or doubted if he would eventually be reinstated.

“If anything, I gained a bit of confidence down there, and I was really excited when I got the chance to come back up and play with the boys again,’’ he said. “I knew if I worked hard down there and improved each week, I’d get another crack. I was confident in that.’’

Under contract to Newcastle for another season, the 28-year-old said he was surprised last week by speculation linking him to the English Super League.

“That’s the first I’ve heard of it,’’ he said. “I’ve still got another year here, so that’s my focus at the moment.’’

Hodkinson said Newcastle’s performance at Belmore was “pretty solid” and the disappointing result would provide motivation to bounce back against the Broncos at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday.

The Broncos will field novices in fullback Jamayne Isaako and winger Jonus Pearson and Hodkinson plans to “test them out”.

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