The cruel fate of friend Brent Tate has convinced injury-plagued Queensland great Justin Hodges to retire from State of Origin football “on his terms”.
“I don’t want to go out that way as well,” Hodges said of ex-Maroons teammate Tate’s injury-enforced 2014 exit.
By rights, Hodges was supposed to bow out of Origin duty with Tate in Wednesday night’s series decider in Brisbane.
Sadly for Tate, Hodges is the last man standing in their pact.
Tate was last year forced to call time at 32 after suffering an ACL injury for the fourth time in his career in the 2014 Origin II loss that sealed NSW’s first series win in nine years.
It has hit a nerve with a 33-year-old Hodges who has also battled serious injuries throughout his career, including two ruptured Achilles.
“We’ve always been close, we’ve been roomies for ages and we always thought we were going to go out together this year,” said Hodges of Tate ahead of his 24th and final Origin.
“That was our plan that we were talking about last year but his body didn’t allow him to.”
Hodges added: “I don’t want to go out that way as well.
“I want to go out on my own terms… and I think this year is the right time.”
Hodges did not believe his battered body that endured a 13-year Origin career would feel a twinge of regret after Wednesday night.
“As you get older the body slows down and the amount of injuries I’ve had are starting to catch up as well,” Hodges said.
“I’ve made a decision and I’m happy with it and it’s time for me to step aside and let some other blokes come through and have a chance.”
Tate’s fate may have helped influence his decision but Hodges admitted he would be looking for someone else in the crowd at his last Origin – his infant son Carter.
“For me it’s a long journey coming to an end but I’m going to have my son there and it’s going to be even more special,” Hodges said.
“When the anthem’s playing I’m going to be looking for him (son) and hopefully I don’t have a tear.
“Just to run out there for the last time in that jersey especially at Suncorp in front of all our fans, it’s going to be outstanding.
“I can’t wait for it.”