Newcastle coach Nathan Brown has launched an impassioned plea for Trent Hodkinson to retain his NSW No.7 jersey, saying he’s not to blame for their dire predicament.
It’s hard to tell if Hodkinson did enough to hold his spot in Blues coach Laurie Daley’s line up for the June 1 series opener, after a mixed performance in the Knights’ 20-12 NRL loss to West Tigers on Saturday.
While he scored an important try to claw his side back into the game before halftime, his opportunities were few and far between.
Hodkinson has been the NSW halfback for the last two series however his selection is a gamble after failing to ignite the last-placed Knights since moving to the Hunter from Canterbury this year.
However Brown suggested his charge’s name should be read out when Daley names his side on Monday and said he was the kind of player that flourished around a good team.
“I’ve said it before, Trent’s playing in a team that’s got a lot of young kids in it and very inexperienced,” Brown said.
“It would be far easier playing for NSW than playing for Newcastle at the minute because of the situation we’re in.”
The jostle for the NSW halfback spot is a race between three with South Sydney’s Adam Reynolds and Sydney Roosters’ Mitchell Pearce all in contention.
It has been hard to gauge Hodkinson’s form throughout the first 11 weeks, and further clouding Daley’s thinking will be the fact that the 27-year-old missed the week prior because of a recurring knee injury.
Hodkinson has battled the problem for the last three years and will likely have to manage it for the rest of his career.
However he said he felt fit and refreshed after missing last week’s 62-0 spanking at the hands of Cronulla.
“It felt a lot better today, having the week off. I was nice and refreshed and I felt as though it was one of my better games for the Knights,” Hodkinson said.
“But my focus is here and not on Origin.”