Sport

Hodges all set for one last hurrah in Origin

SWANSONG: Justin Hodges takes part in training for the Maroons yesterday.
SWANSONG: Justin Hodges takes part in training for the Maroons yesterday. DAVE HUNTAAP

NEW South Wales fans won't be sorry to see the end of him, which is probably the highest compliment Justin Hodges could get.

The Brisbane Broncos captain, who has hinted he may yet play a season or two in the UK, finally confirmed this year's State of Origin series against NSW would be his last - 13 years after one of the most forgettable debuts for Queensland.

Despite his two monumental clangers, Queensland still managed to win 26-18.

>> Origin Greats: Who are the best hookers?

"It's a decision I haven't made lightly, but I've had a wonderful run and some great moments. I think it's time I do (retire from representative football)," said Hodges, admitting he had not ruled out a stint in the English Super League if he could not strike a new deal with Brisbane.

"There is some great young talent coming through like Willy Chambers and Dane Gagai. I'm doing the right thing by them giving them an opportunity. I've had my fun. It's been wonderful and I'm just grateful I get to finish off with this bunch of blokes I started with."

Hodges is super competitive. Apart from his big sidestep and fend, part of his game is to niggle and get on the opposition's nerves, which he does very well.

Early in his career he had a major falling out with Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett in 2001, before heading off to Sydney to try and establish himself as a fullback with the Roosters.

The move paid off and the following season he was named to make his debut for Queensland aged 20.

It was supposed to be a special night.

But it quickly turned in to a nightmare as he threw two in-goal passes, both failing to find their target, which gifted the Blues two tries.

It was the worst possible start to his representative career. But like other champions, Laurie Daley and even Darren Lockyer, who'd experienced representative debut stinkers, he bounced back to silence his critics.

The 32-year-old has played 20 Origins since his debut game and is hoping to bow out with a series victory in front of Brisbane fans at Suncorp Stadium on July 8.

Kangaroo coach Tim Sheens denied him a Test farewell earlier this year, leaving him out of the one-off trans-Tasman Test loss to the Kiwis.

But there's no chance Queensland coach Mal Meninga would deny him a tribute farewell unless he was injured or suspended.

"I'd love to go out a winner but NSW is a great side and we're going to have to be very good to win it," he said. Hodges said he wasn't dirty about being left out of the Australia side for what would have been his last Test.

"I've got nothing to prove to anyone. I've done everything I can in the game and I'm very proud of that," he said.

Topics:  justin hodges, maroons, stateoforigin2015



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