Don't forget about Hokko: Morris
Don't forget about Hokko.
That's the message from NSW teammate and clubmate Josh Morris as the Origin selection chatter begins to hit the rugby league stratosphere early in 2015.
While debate rages over the form of South Sydney's Adam Reynolds and the Roosters' Mitchell Pearce, Morris has come out to bat for incumbent Blues No.7 Trent Hodkinson ahead of their blockbuster clash against Manly on Friday night.
"The same thing happened last year. His name wasn't really mentioned or thrown up, [but] when he got his chance, he made every post a winner," Morris told NRL.com.
"He won us that game in Game II and got us the shield. That says a lot about him and a lot about the player he is – he's very calm under pressure. He was great for NSW last year, and I think it'd be only fair to give him first crack, being the incumbent."
A fractured arm to five-eighth Josh Reynolds has heaped pressure on Hodkinson to retain his spot in Laurie Daley's side, but the 26-year-old has the opportunity against Cherry-Evans this Friday to allay some of those concerns.
"I'm sure he'll talk to [stand in five-eighth] Moses Mbye about that this week, that they've got a good battle on their hands there with Daly," Morris said.
"I'm sure now that Daly's sorted out his future, he'll just want to concentrate on playing football well for Manly. It's a key match-up and one that I look forward to watching."
Hodkinson has added motivation for a good showing against the Gold Coast-bound halfback, with the former Sea Eagle still in negotiations with the club for a new contract.
With Manly without a playmaker next year, Friday night looms as the perfect opportunity to put a strong display in front of the major powerbrokers in Brookvale.
Morris said he was hopeful the Bulldogs would move quickly to re-sign their chief orchestrator, but publicly backed his teammate to chase the best deal available.
"I haven't really spoken to Trent about that. That's obviously Trent's decision, but everyone loves him here, everyone loves having him as part of the team," he said.
"I'm sure Trent will do what's best for him and his wife. So wherever it may be, wherever he signs, I think everyone will support him. But it'd be nice to keep him here at the Bulldogs."
The last time these two teams met, the Bulldogs knocked the Sea Eagles out of the premiership race with a dramatic 18-17 semi-final win.
Morris said that defeat, together with the controversial departures of both Manly's halves, will provide further motivation for a side renowned for rising against adversity.
"They obviously haven't had the best news in the past two weeks, but whoever's playing on Friday night, will put their hand up. I thought they were really good against Melbourne on the weekend. Friday night will definitely be a tough challenge for us," he said.
"They'll want to get one over us. And we're the same. We've built up a nice rivalry the past 3-4 years since Des has come on board. I'm sure that will continue on Friday."