Hodges pleads for Test swansong
Test veteran Justin Hodges has pleaded with Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens for one last green and gold jersey after announcing his intention to step down from representative football at the end of 2015.
Friday's Anzac Test between Australia and New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium is the only scheduled game for the Kangaroos this year with Sheens to announce his squad at 5pm on Sunday.
Having come through a full game for the first time since injuring his hamstring against the Warriors in Round 3 – and getting permission from Broncos coach Wayne Bennett to play – Hodges declared himself fit for selection for Australia.
Although he missed the 2014 Four Nations and has not played for the Kangaroos for more than two years, Hodges remains one of the premier centres in the competition and is certain to be selected for what will be his 14th and final Test.
"It's probably going to be my last year of reps so I'd love to play one more game for Australia and it will probably be my last year for rep," Hodges said following the Broncos' 28-16 win over the Eels.
"I owe it to the club to finish my career and concentrate on the Broncos fully next year.
"I've had my time in that rep scene. It would be nice to go out a winner for Australia and in Origin and it's time to move on and let some young blokes have a go like Dane Gagai and all those guys who are in the mix as well.
"It's been on my mind for a while but everyone knows when the time's right.
"Losing the series last year probably lit the flame to go one more year for it and get it back.
"My main focus is here and if I'm not 100 per cent right then I won't play those games. This (the Broncos) is where my heart lies."
If Hodges is selected he will be joined in the Test team by Brisbane teammates Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker and possibly Ben Hunt before setting his sights on a 12th and final Origin campaign with the Maroons.
Winner of the Anzac Medal as man of the match, Thaiday said Hodges' decision to step down from representative football at the end of the season is an indication of how far he has come as a leader.
"That shows his maturity and how much he's grown as a captain. Like I said it takes a lot for a player to do that," Thaiday said.
"Yes that would be good for him – one last hurrah for him. He is getting old though and he knows it so that takes a lot for a player to do.
"I hope he gets a phone call and I hope a few of our other boys get a phone call as well."
Having failed to take any part in the second half against the Dragons last week, Hodges was only a confirmed starter against the Eels on Friday and looked tentative in the opening exchanges.
"I was a bit slow early. I wanted to get into the game and just really wanted to play a full game," said Hodges, who will turn 33 next month.
"I haven't played a full game for a while and obviously last week got a bit sore so just wanted to ease myself in and having the luxury of [Jack] Reed outside me we would swap.
"Once I got my confidence and felt my leg was good obviously I needed to stand up."