Hodges relishes Jennings Origin challenge

Outclassed in State of Origin II, Justin Hodges would have been forgiven for wanting to see the back of NSW centre Michael Jennings.

However, the Queensland veteran will relish another round with his Origin II tormentor in a must-win game three, saying he is “very happy” the arrested Blues flyer avoided a NSW ban.

Not much can upset Hodges these days as he dares to dream of bowing out at season’s end with an NRL premiership ring and more Origin glory.

Not even the prospect of again lining up against Jennings in July 8’s deciding Origin III in Brisbane could wipe the smile off his face on Tuesday.

Hodges, 33, had no answer for Jennings who was named man-of-the-match after NSW’s 26-18 Origin II victory in Melbourne last week.

The stage is set for a memorable re-match in game three after NSW refused to stand down Jennings over a weekend arrest in Sydney.

After dominating Queensland’s 11-10 Origin I win, Hodges admitted he had been “kept honest” by Jennings who made his intentions clear with a barnstorming fourth minute try.

“Oh yeah. That’s just one game so we’ve got one more to go,” Hodges said.

Asked if he was happy Jennings was available for Origin III, Hodges said: “Very happy he’ll be there.”

Jennings will be unleashed by NSW after Blues coach Laurie Daley opted not to further punish the centre.

Jennings was dropped for Monday night’s NRL clash with the Dragons and fined by the Sydney Roosters in the wake of weekend charges of offensive behaviour and hindering police.

The clash of the two devastating centres sets up a fitting Origin farewell for 22-game veteran Hodges who will retire from representative football at season’s end.

But it remains to be seen if 2015 will also mark Hodges’ rugby league swansong.

Hodges is yet to decide whether to play on next year despite being contracted until the end of 2016.

Hodges admitted he may be tempted to hang up the boots if he completed the NRL premiership-Origin series double this year.

“It’s a possibility and it’s a fairytale,” he said.

“It’s one of those things that you’d love to end your career on but the hardest thing is trying to get it done.

“The whole 26 weeks is tough and then you get to the finals and it’s another ball game and harder again.

“Fingers crossed that it all happens but this game’s too hard to predict.”

So far, so good with Brisbane sitting on top of the NRL ladder with 10 matches left.

Hodges admitted the team spirit shown in Sunday’s last round 14-12 win in Melbourne was making his job as leader easier.

Not that he was losing his passion for the Broncos job.

“I know when my time’s up. That’s for you to find out,” he told the media on Tuesday when again prodded on retirement.

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
Stay up to date with the latest sports news
Follow our social accounts to get exclusive content and all the latest sporting news!