Hodges ready to resume Jennings rivalry

Hodges ready to resume Jennings rivalry

The final chapter in his great rivalry with Michael Jennings will provide a fitting subplot to Justin Hodges’ Suncorp Stadium swansong.

But the Brisbane captain is not ready to close the book on his NRL career just yet.

Hodges, 33, said “it’s only right” that his final home game for the Broncos was against ex-club Sydney Roosters featuring his arch-rival Jennings in Friday night’s NRL grand final qualifier.

He said the Roosters centre would “bring out his best” at his home farewell – not that Jennings had to be told.

In his State of Origin swansong, Hodges turned the tables on game two man of the match Jennings to inspire Queensland’s record 52-6 series clinching romp over NSW in front of a rabid Suncorp Stadium crowd.

It brought an exclamation point to Hodges’ seven year Origin rivalry with Jennings.

Now he is looking to do the same to their long-running NRL duel.

“We have had some good battles me and Jenno,” Hodges said.

“He’s a guy you always love playing against.

“He’s someone who brings the best out of me and I am sure I do for him as well.

“It is going to be sad in a way – it’s our last game – I am looking forward to it.”

Hodges reckoned he knew what Jennings would do on Friday night but it would be hard to stop, judging by the Roosters’ 12-10 round 24 win over Brisbane in Sydney.

“I can’t move up too fast because he likes to step back inside and he’s got that right hand fend as well,” Hodges said.

“I have to make sure I am on my game.

“I think last time we gave them too much room so we will have to make sure we are doing our job on the edges.”

Hodges may be pondering a fond farewell in Brisbane but he is not ready to walk away from the game just yet.

“We are 80 minutes away from a grand final – that’s the prize everyone wants,” he said.

Hodges admitted he had initially hoped to face ex-club Roosters in the season decider.

They are the only other club he spent time at (2002-04) during his glittering 16-season career.

“I thought it would be fitting if I played a grand final against the two sides that I had won (premierships) with but it’s come a week early,” he said.

“I have always loved the Roosters.

“It’s only right that I get to play against them in a big semi.”

Hodges did not feature in Brisbane’s 2000 title victory in his debut year and controversially left the club, featuring in the Roosters’ 2002 premiership triumph.

But all was forgiven when he returned and helped inspire Brisbane’s 2006 title success.

Six-time champions Brisbane have not won a premiership since – their longest drought.

The winner plays the Melbourne-North Queensland victor in the NRL grand final in Sydney.

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