He keeps getting painful reminders of the heartbreaking end to his NRL career, but recently retired Justin Hodges has already moved on to the next phase of his rugby league life.
Hodges was last seen on a field as captain of the Brisbane Broncos side which suffered an excruciating golden-point grand final loss to the North Queensland Cowboys.
The deciding field goal from Cowboys icon Johnathan Thurston added to the Australian playmaker’s bulging portfolio but ensured fellow Queensland Origin and Kangaroos stalwart Hodges left the game as a loser.
“That’s something that stays with me for the rest of my life; not going out a winner,” Hodges told AAP.
“I had a dream last year that I wanted to get back to the big stage which was a grand final and I got to live that.
“I didn’t get the result that I wanted, but I’ve got to be happy with what I’ve done throughout my career.
“There’s always going to be a little bit of regret, but over time it will probably heal.”
He has no intention of ever watching a replay of arguably the most exciting grand final ever, but that doesn’t mean he has been able to leave it behind.
“I’ve been to a few promotions where they have shown highlights,” Hodges said.
Hodges is now giving back to the game that gave him so much.
He started work last week as the Broncos indigenous program officer and on Wednesday was named as one of the NRL’s new community ambassadors.
“I always wanted to be involved with the game somewhere,” Hodges said.
“It’s given me the life that I’ve had today and us (ambassadors) being out in the community really impacts big on our kids.”
Since Hodges retirement the NRL has witnessed a slew of of other quality centres changing clubs.
James Roberts moved from Gold Coast to Brisbane, Dale Copley from the Broncos to the Roosters and Michael Jennings from the Roosters to Eels.
“I’m pleased that Dale is going to a great club in the Roosters that I played for as well and hopefully he’ll be in good hands,” Hodges said.
He felt the Maroons would be in good hands with Kevin Walters taking over the coaching role following Mal Meninga’s jump into the national team position.
“He’s a great leader, he’s one of the most passionate guys I’ve ever met, especially the Broncos and obviously for Queensland,” Hodges said.
“Coming into that (Queensland) side it doesn’t take a lot of coaching, it’s just making sure you’re handling the men well, making sure the environment is happy and all the boys are happy.”