CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19: Josh Hodgson of the Raiders in action during the round three NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Wests Tigers at GIO Stadium on March 19, 2017 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Canberra captain Josh Hodgson is eyeing a return to the NRL as early as the club’s season opener against Wests in March, as he continues rehabilitation on his injured knee.

The Raiders hooker ruptured his ACL in July against the Storm and had his 2020 campaign cut short, with the English veteran slowly working his way back onto the training track.

Speaking to Canberra media on Monday, Hodgson said he was ecstatic to be back with the playing group to begin pre-season.

“[I’m] really excited to be back, it’s been a while since the break in October but I’ve been itching to come back,” Hodgson said

“It was a long year and we’ve not really had a chance to stop so I’ve been ticking away three days a week and really chomping at the bit to get going.”

When asked how is recovery was progressing, the 31-year-old said a return in Round 1 remains on the cards.

“Yeah really well… as well as it could have done,” he said.

“Round 1 is probably my target date, it’s one of those things with that kind of injury where I cant really rush it.

“I’ll have to see the surgeon at the end of January and get the ‘okay’ to do contact, once I get that ill have a better idea for when ill actually play.”

Supporting No.9 Tom Starling had a promising season for the Green Machine in Hodgson’s absence, with the Englishman praising the 22-year-old’s development over the past year.

“He’s such a good lad Tommy and he really took the chance with both hands,” Hodgson added.

“He played really well, he kept it simple and we’ve all seen what he can do.

“He’s a real good young kid who’s willing to learn, its good to see those kind of blokes get the chance and take it.”

Hodgson has played 117 games for the Raiders since joining the club ahead of the 2015 season.