Trent Hodkinson’s Canterbury and NSW teammates Josh Morris and Josh Jackson say the playmaker known as “The Iceman” hasn’t been touched by the fierce criticism heaped on him ahead of State of Origin II.
Hodkinson enters Wednesday’s Game II clash at the MCG as arguably the most under-pressure player on both sides, after the Blues’ late-match failures in Game I and Bulldogs’ coach Des Hasler’s move in dragging his No.7 in the last-start win over St George Illawarra.
However, Jackson says Hodkinson is largely immune to such criticism and has spent the week at their Coffs Harbour base readying himself and his game for the Blues’ do-or-die challenge at the MCG.
“Trent is fine – he just doesn’t listen to it (the criticism),” Jackson said on Saturday.
“He knows he has got the full support of everyone here and everyone at the Bulldogs, too.
“I have said it all year: he has been playing good footy for us. He does exactly what we want him to do. He leads us around; he organises well; he is good to have in those tight moments; he always gets us over the line.
“I love him as a bloke and as a teammate. He always puts the team first.”
Hodkinson and halves partner Mitchell Pearce have been bagged for their failure to take a shot at field goal late in the Game I loss in Sydney. But Hodkinson has shown he is a late-game match-winner many times before as evidenced by his golden-point field goal in last year’s NRL final series that sent Manly tumbling out of the premiership race.
Morris believes the extent of the criticism of Hodkinson has been harsh and has backed Pearce and him to get the job done at the MCG.
“Trent has been really good,” Morris said.
“Him and Mitchell have come into camp, they lead the team around and through the first few sessions they have been really good. I’m sure they will both want to have big games on Wednesday.
“Trent has been under a lot of criticism lately – I think it is pretty unfair.
“He is certainly a great defensive halfback, I always feel confident in the line whenever I am defending alongside him and I’m sure Michael (Jennings) does and Ryan (Hoffman) does as well so that part of his game is down pat.
“Him and Pearcey are fixing up those little things we need to work on around this camp and I know they will get it right for Wednesday night.”
Dylan Walker was called into the Blues squad on Saturday as 19th man.
NSW had their first contact session on Saturday, and will follow up again with the same on Sunday morning before they fly to Melbourne that afternoon.