Joke or not, Justin Hodges says he took an approach by Queensland coach Kevin Walters about playing in this year’s State of Origin campaign seriously.
Hodges says Walters enquired about the chance of Hodges making an Allan Langer-style return to Origin in 2016 following Will Chambers’ foot injury last week.
Langer was famously playing in England when he was flown back by then-Maroons coach Wayne Bennett for the 2001 series decider, inspiring Queensland to a series clinching 40-14 victory.
Chambers will miss three months and this year’s Origin series, leaving Walters with another gap in his backline following Hodges’ retirement and Billy Slater’s season-ending shoulder injury.
“I think he was just mucking around but at the same time when you say it to a player who has only just recently retired you do think about it, I won’t lie about that,” Hodges told NRL.com.
“You ask any player, if someone mentions to you about playing Origin, you’d give anything to play.”
Hodges called time on a hugely successful career following Brisbane’s grand final defeat to North Queensland last year.
The 34-year-old said it took a reality check from his wife to put paid to any hopes of adding to his 24 Origin appearances.
“I won’t lie, when he (Walters) texted me I was second-guessing, thinking maybe I could do that,” Hodges said.
“I’ve only been retired for six months, it’s just like having a six-month injury and you’re just coming back for your first game.
“That’s what I was thinking in my head but my wife said, ‘You’re not playing, pull your head in.'”