Hoffman comeback mission pays off
NSW back-rower Ryan Hoffman says his decision to come back from England to the NRL was made because of unfinished business, which he has been lucky enough to tick off his list having helped the Blues to a first State if Origin series win in eight years.
After debuting for the Storm in 2003 Hoffman was a stalwart at the club over the next eight years, playing 170 games, before leaving to spend a year at UK Super League club Wigan in 2011.
Hoffman debuted for New South Wales in 2007, then started all three games in 2008 and played almost every minute of the series, but wasn't picked again before he left for the UK.
With the Blues having lost both those series, Hoffman said there was still a "burning desire" to win an Origin series after he left for England, which contributed to his decision to return after just a year.
Hoffman again started all three games in 2013 in an agonisingly narrow series loss [going down 12-10 in a decider in Sydney], before being picked again to start Game I of 2014, which the Blues won against the odds 12-8 up in Brisbane.
This was followed by what was close to a Man of the Match performance by Hoffman in Game II, in which the Blues ended an eight-year drought with a 6-4 win at ANZ Stadium.
Hoffman was voted Players' Player for that 80-minute effort which saw him rack up 134 metres and 33 tackles in a relentless performance that troubled the Maroons' right edge defence all night.
"I was very happy with how I played and I was very grateful for the boys for their votes and giving me that recognition," Hoffman said of his selection as Players' Player.
"I think I said at the time – I was just happy I did my role. I really was because that's all it came down to. I didn't do anything different, I just played my role the best I can because I knew that was best for the team and that was best to give us a win."
Hoffman said that win was part of why he returned from the Super League so quickly.
"That's why I came back: I wasn't done with Origin, I wasn't done with rep football, I wasn't done winning premierships," he said.
"It was a great experience for me [playing in the UK], it was something I really wanted to do but I still had that burning desire and still wanted to win an Origin series. I hadn't done it before. That hole was burning deep inside me.
"I thought I had a great chance last year but it wasn't to be and that's why I was desperate to get back in to the team this year because I knew we were on the verge of something great. I've ticked that box.
"That's what I wanted to do in my rugby league career – I wanted to have achievements, I wanted to tick them off and to achieve an Origin win, which is one of the ones I hadn't done which was fantastic."
With the series now decided Hoffman said the side had turned its focus to a clean sweep, aiming to win Game III in Brisbane next Wednesday night. Hoffman said it wasn't a case of extracting some revenge after eight years of heartache, but rather about the team meeting the goals it had set itself.
"I'm not looking at it as anything more than that because [a clean sweep by the Blues] is something that hasn't been done in a long time," he said.
"Winning the series hasn't been done in eight years, that's a long time too and we've achieved that. That's the next step for us, that's where we want to take this team. We've got a special group of players and we want to achieve great things with these players."