The curtain may be drawing on Justin Hodges’ 13-year State of Origin career but the Queensland veteran is not shying away from his “aggressive” approach, despite NSW calls for retribution over his alleged dirty tactics.
Hodges has clearly upset the Blues ahead of Wednesday night’s Origin II clash in Melbourne.
The Maroons strike weapon raised eyebrows with a lifting tackle on Robbie Farah and received flak for appearing to demean Ryan Hoffman after a gaffe by the NSW forward in last month’s series opener.
However, 22-Origin game veteran Hodges said he would not be changing his style in a series that may spark his rugby league swansong in 2015.
Indeed Hodges made no apologies ahead of what appeared to be yet another Origin bruiser at the MCG.
“That’s up to them (retribution). That’s their tactics, but we play hard football,” Hodges said of NSW talk that they would seek revenge in game two.
“I have only got two (rep) games left and I am out there to win them.
“I play an aggressive style and that won’t change.”
Asked about the Hoffman incident where he riled the NSW backrower by patting his head after a mistake, Hodges said: “It was all just some friendly stuff.
“He made a play that was crucial in the game.
“Both sides do it (niggle) so I am not going to sit here and go on about it.”
Hodges, 33, has already confirmed that he will end his glittering representative career at season’s end.
But it remains to be seen whether the classy centre walks away from the game altogether this year.
He has a year left on his Broncos contract but Hodges did not rule out calling time if Queensland sealed their ninth Origin series in 10 years.
“I haven’t given it too much thought to be honest,” he said.
“The main focus is getting the Origin trophy back.
“I will make a decision after Origin if I am going to go another year or retire.
“I still love the game but the hardest thing is training and doing the same old thing.
“But when you come to camps like this, this is what you play for.”
The master niggler may be known for his unscrupulous approach but Hodges did not rule out getting emotional if he helped Queensland grab Origin glory in his representative swansong.
“If we win there might be a few tears,” he admitted.
“But this is what we play for. We put everything into this game.
“Every game has been hard, every game has been brutal.”