Bulldog Hodkinson ready for Manly return Ben Horne SMH August 16, 2011 - 6:49PM AAP Canterbury halfback Trent Hodkinson is preparing for the game of his life on Sunday when he comes up against former NRL club Manly for the first time. The Bulldogs must topple the second-placed Sea Eagles to remain in the hunt for the finals, and the stage is set for Hodkinson to produce something special in his return to a hostile Brookvale Oval. The 22-year-old was one of the rookies of the year last season when he burst onto the scene for the Sea Eagles. Advertisement: Story continues below But after steering Manly into the top eight, he jumped ship to the Bulldogs and, since then, the Sea Eagles have incredibly uncovered another boom No.7 in Daly Cherry-Evans. Hodkinson admits the Sea Eagles have gone to another level since he was wearing maroon and white, and is relishing the chance to take on his former understudy Cherry-Evans and, in the process, keep the Bulldogs playoff hopes on the boil. "I think they've gone to another level this year. They're just playing consistent good footy and it's going to take someone special to stop them but, hopefully, this week we can ... play like our season is on the line," Hodkinson told AAP. "It's going to be a big game. They're on fire at the moment, especially at Brookie I'll probably cop a bit of slack off the faithful out there, so it's going to be interesting. "It's a bit of desperation with the season being on the line and, hopefully, it takes us to another level." The Sea Eagles were sorry to have lost Hodkinson, who broke into the City Origin team in his debut season but, 12 months on, they wouldn't trade Cherry-Evans for anyone. Quality young halfbacks are a rarity in the modern game, but Manly managed to hit the jackpot in back-to-back seasons. Hodkinson said Cherry-Evans deserved to take out the NRL's Rookie of the Year mantle, but hopes his time on the northern peninsula might give the Bulldogs some insight into how to put a spanner in the Manly machine. "Maybe, we'll see how we go. When the video sessions come up, I'll have my two bobs to say in there," he said. "They've obviously changed a fair bit from last year to this year so I'm not sure (I know Cherry-Evans' game that well). He's definitely going good, Chez, and he's playing with confidence which is good to see. "He's done his apprenticeship and he's come through this year and he's killing it. "I think (he will win rookie of the year) ... either him or Tariq Sims but, being a young halfback, it's not the easiest thing coming up and telling the older fellas what to do."