Chambers earns Hodges’ Origin nod

Ask veteran centre Justin Hodges what he thinks of the man set to replace him in the Queensland State of Origin team, and he is blunt: “He is a pest”.

Yet Hodges has no problem with Melbourne’s Will Chambers being ordained as the player to fill his legendary shoes in the Maroons’ side next year.

Chambers has already leapfrogged 33-year-old Hodges in the Test team, making his international debut in Australia’s trans-Tasman loss to New Zealand in April.

But he will again have to bide his time on the wing for the Maroons this year after Hodges claimed he would retire from representative football at season’s end.

However, Chambers has still made his presence felt in the Queensland camp since making his Origin debut replacing the injured Brent Tate in game three last year – much to Hodges’ initial frustration.

“He’s a pest,” an honest Hodges said of Chambers.

“He didn’t ease himself in (to Origin camp).

“If you are playing cards or PlayStation, he is always having a dig at you. He thinks he is the best in everything.

“But he is good to have around.

“When things are a bit low, he comes in and cheers you up – he’s a great bloke and friend.”

And it seems already a handy Origin player.

Queensland coach Mal Meninga has hailed Chambers as having the greatest opening two Origin games after the Maroons’ 11-10 match-one win in Sydney last month.

After impressing on debut in game three last year, Chambers took it to another level in Origin I at ANZ Stadium.

Chambers registered one try, two line breaks and a staggering 260m in the series opener.

And more of the same is expected when the Melbourne player runs out in front of a packed MCG at his “home” Origin clash.

“Mal makes my job pretty easy. He just says make your tackles and run the ball hard,” Chambers said.

“I just try to enjoy it as much as I can.

“I feel honoured to be part of this group of boys.

“They have done some special things together so to get an opportunity to run out with them is very special.”

The feeling is mutual it seems, listening to Hodges.

“He is one of the greatest players I have seen in Origin based on his first two games,” Hodges gushed of Chambers.

“I know when I step down from this arena, he is going to do a good job.”

Asked about his NRL future, Hodges said: “I haven’t given it too much thought, to be honest.

“The main focus is getting the Origin trophy back (from NSW).

“I will make a decision after Origin if I am going to go another year or retire.”

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