A “last hurrah” looms for Justin Hodges at next week’s trans-Tasman Test in Brisbane after the Kangaroos veteran confirmed he will retire from representative football at the end of the 2015 NRL season.
And Broncos teammate Sam Thaiday is backing Hodges – 33 next month – to don green and gold for the final time against the Kiwis on Friday night after helping to inspire their 28-16 home win over Parramatta on Anzac Day.
The injury-plagued Hodges looked as good as new after overcoming a last round hamstring scare in Brisbane’s sixth win in seven games on Saturday night.
Hodges then stunned reporters after the match when he claimed he would be retiring from rep footy in a bid to search for more Broncos titles after Queensland’s quest to regain the State of Origin crown in 2015.
Thaiday said he believed the veteran centre had done enough to earn a nod from Australian coach Tim Sheens when the trans-Tasman squad was confirmed on Sunday night.
“It would be one last hurrah for him,” incumbent Test back-rower Thaiday said.
“But he’s getting old though and he knows it.
“It takes a lot for a player to stand up and say they are going to stop.
“It shows his maturity and how much he has grown as a captain.”
“I would love to play one more game for Australia,” Hodges said.
“(But) I owe it to the club to finish my career and concentrate on the Broncos fully next year.
“I have had my time on the rep scene.
“It would be nice to go out a winner in Origin and for Australia.
“(But) it’s time to move on and let some young guys get a go like (Newcastle’s) Dane Gagai.”
Hodges hinted that he would have hung up his rep boots if Queensland’s run of eight straight Origin series wins had not been broken by NSW last year.
“It’s been on my mind for a while but I think everyone knows when the time is right,” he said of rep retirement.
“Losing the (Origin) series last year probably lit the flame to go one more year.
“To get it back is my main focus.”
Still, Hodges did not expect Sheens to play the charity card when he named his squad on Sunday.
“If I am not 100 per cent right I will not play those games – I will focus here,” Hodges said.
“This (Broncos) is where my heart lies.”