Sydney Roosters flyer Michael Jennings is relishing the chance to get one over on Justin Hodges one more time but says a win over Brisbane won’t amount to State of Origin revenge.
Jennings has had a running battle with Hodges ever since entering first grade in 2007 and he will lock horns with the retiring Broncos captain one final time in Friday’s preliminary final at Suncorp Stadium.
Ever since Jennings’ second NRL match when Hodges scored four tries on him, the pair have shared a fierce rivalry.
For the past seven years they have marked each other in State of Origin, coming together for their respective states on 13 occasions.
In that time, Jennings has likely been on the end of more one-liners from Hodges, one of the game’s premier sledgers, than any other player.
Jennings describes himself as not sensitive to Hodges’ brand of mental disintegration and has savoured his battles with the Queensland and Australian three-quarter over the years.
“I think it’s always good to play quality centres,” Jennings said.
“I’ve had a few battles with him so it’s just going to be a good challenge for myself.”
Friday’s clash, which will decide who grabs the first berth in Sunday week’s grand final, will have an Origin subtext.
With North Queensland and Melbourne on the other side of the draw, the Roosters are flying the flag for NSW and will have to contend with a 52,000-strong highly partisan Brisbane crowd.
As well as the Jennings-Hodges head-to-head battle, there are Origin match-ups across the park.
Queensland back-rowers Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker and Matt Gillett will renew hostilities with NSW and Roosters opposite Boyd Cordner.
The Broncos also boast Maroons outside back Darius Boyd while the Rosters have former NSW winger Daniel Tupou.
Jennings said nothing will make amends for NSW’s 52-6 flogging at the hands of Queensland in this year’s series decider, but Friday’s clash will have the air of a Queensland v NSW battle.
“It’s got that (Queensland v NSW) feeling, being the only Sydney team now.” Jennings said.
“It won’t have that Origin rivalry. We still have a few of our fans up there which will come and support us. It’s going to be awesome.”