Aviva Premiership
Saracens confirm Hodgson signing
ESPNscrum Staff
January 10, 2011

Saracens have confirmed that fly-half Charlie Hodgson will join the club from Premiership rivals Sale at the end of the season.

The in-form 30-year-old England international, who confirmed at the weekend that he would be leaving Edgeley Park after 11 seasons, will switch to Sarries in the summer in a "long-term deal".

"I am excited to be joining a club now recognised as the most ambitious and player-friendly in the Premiership," he said. "Saracens have great people and great plans - there really is something special happening in north London, and I'm looking forward to being part of it."

Capped 34 times by England, Hodgson is also the all-time record points scorer in Premiership rugby and his signature was warmly welcomed by Saracens' director of rugby Mark McCall, who officially took charge of first team affairs on Monday following the departure of Brendan Venter.

"As a club, we have been making massive strives over the past couple of years and the signing of Charlie Hodgson is another major step," he said. "He is a world class player whose personality and ability ideally suits our environment. Charlie was wanted by many leading clubs, and we are delighted he has chosen to sign with Saracens."

His arrival will provide Saracens with real authority and a clear first-choice number 10 as they continue to seek a first Premiership title. The Vicarage Road side had rotated between Derick Hougaard and Alex Goode this season until the South African ruptured his Achilles tendon in October. Teenager Owen Farrell has filled the role in recent weeks with Goode restored to his more familiar role of fullback.

Hodgson amassed 1,753 points and won the league title as well as two European Challenge Cups during his lengthy stint with Sale. The club are currently 10th in the Premiership table, after another disappointing start to the season and recent sacking of coach Mike Brewer, but Hodgson admitted yesterday that the current plight of the club did not influence his decision to quit.

"Irrespective of what has happened this season at the club, I wanted a new challenge elsewhere," he said. "I am not getting any younger and wouldn't want to hang up my boots wondering whether I should have moved. Sale have always been good to me and I have made many friends at the club, both on and off the field. The fans are very special and they can rest assured that I will be giving everything and more while I am still a Sharks player and want to leave the club on a high note."

Sale chief executive Mick Hogan, who also faces a battle to hold on to out-of-contract England prop Andrew Sheridan, expressed his disappointment at Hodgson's decision. "Without doubt he will be considered one of the greatest players to ever play for Sale Sharks," he said. "We made it clear to Charlie that we wanted him to stay at Sale but understand his reasons for wishing to move on. We know what a difficult decision this has been for Charlie to make and the club are thankful for the early indication he has given us on his future. Hopefully this will now end the recent intense speculation on the matter."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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