Justin Hodges wants to be part of special Origin
BRISBANE centre Justin Hodges takes his first steps towards achieving a very personal State of Origin goal with an earlier-than-expected return from as second major achilles injury against Parramatta at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Hodges, 31, needs two more Origins to qualify for the Dick Turner Medal - a prestigious award presented to players who appear in 20 games for Queensland. Turner was the "Godfather" of Queensland Origin teams until his death in 2008.
The first game of this year's interstate series against NSW at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium will be the 100th game between the states and the Queensland Rugby League's decision to honour the memory of the late Arthur Beetson by retiring the No.11 jumper he wore in his one and only Origin at Lang Park in 1980, is not lost on Hodges who was close to both Maroon icons.
Just before he passed away from pancreatic cancer, Turner was honoured by being named manager of Queensland's Team of the Century.
Hodges admits he found Turner a "little scary" at first, but like all the Queensland players, he soon discovered there wasn't anything Turner wouldn't do for his players.
"He spoke very passionately about Origin and what it means and he was quite big on Shakespeare," recalled Hodges who would have played a lot more than 18 Origin games but for a string of untimely injuries.
"Sometimes his stories were a little weird, but to me he was a great man and I was very blessed to have spent time with him."
Speaking to APN, Hodges said the legacy left by Beetson and Turner lived on in every Queensland Origin camp.
"There's always pictures of Dick and big Artie. This year they are going to retire Arties No.11 jersey that he wore in the very first Origin game and I want to be a part of that special match."
Hodges said he had been assured by specialists he couldn't do any more damage after his second achilles snap.
"If something was going to happen it would have happened by now," he said.
"The tendon is a lot stronger and a lot thicker. The chances of something happening are very small."
Hodges will return from injury at right centre, up against his good mate Willie Tonga and rampaging Eels left winger Semi Radradra
"I'm not sure I want the semi-trailer (Radradra) running over me. I just want to get out there, take a hit and get back into as quickly as I can," he said.