Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown has heaped praise on Trent Hodkinson, describing his predicament at the club as "tough a situation any halfback has had to deal with at any club the past century".
Hodkinson formally inked a new deal with the Cronulla Sharks on Monday after he was granted a release by the Knights from the final year of his big money contract at the club.
The former NSW State of Origin-winning halfback joined the Knights from the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in 2015 but since Brown's arrival he has been spent a lot of time in the Intrust Super Premiership as a result of the coach's desire to groom the young players at the club.
Hodkinson never sulked, and his attitude and contribution to the club hasn't been lost on the coach.
"He handled himself with so much dignity," Brown told NRL.com.
"He came up and left Canterbury, who had a heap of internationals, and many games with us he ran on the field as the lone person with any extensive first grade experience. It was as tough a situation any halfback has had to deal with at any club the past century.
"No matter who was halfback two years ago, it would have been a difficult task to deal with. He handled himself brilliantly."
Brown insists there was "no huge financial gain" for the Knights by releasing him to join the Sharks.
However they couldn't deny him the opportunity to try and play in the NRL at another club given Mitchell Pearce, Connor Watson, Brock Lamb and Jack Cogger were all ahead of him in the halves department at Newcastle.
"It's never nice doing what we felt we had to do with Trent," Brown said.
"We've gone through a lot of tough times here and that hasn't been easy on a lot of people. We've lost one or two we didn't want to lose. It's particularly hard with Trent because everyone sees what he does in the community and how he handles himself. He's had a tough time, like a lot of us.
"But he's going to Cronulla and will get the chance to play with seven or eight seasoned internationals. He showed at the end of last year when our young forwards started winning battles up front, he still had what it took to win games. He will go to the Sharks with Wade Graham, Andrew Fifita, Paul Gallen, Luke Lewis, Matt Moylan, Josh Dugan ... he will be a great foil for them."