With former Bulldogs hooker Michael Ennis set to join the NSW camp as cover for Robbie Farah and his broken hand, halfback Trent Hodkinson says his experience playing with Ennis at the Bulldogs will be a boost if Farah does get ruled out.
Farah had a plate and screw inserted in a fractured metacarpal on Tuesday night as he races the clock to be fit for the June 8 decider at Suncorp Stadium, but with Ennis due to arrive on Thursday morning despite being found guilty of a grade one careless high tackle charge at the judiciary on Wednesday night, the now-Sharks No.9's history with Hodkinson could be a benefit to NSW.
Farah's plans to join the team were delayed by his surgery, with Blues doctor Nathan Gibbs on Wednesday night gaining clearance for the injured hooker to fly.
It is not yet clear what role he will be able to play in training, with Melbourne utility Ryan Hinchcliffe handling the dummy half duties in the team's first hit-out on Wednesday morning.
Ennis is in arguably career-best form – at least according to Hodkinson – having set up the first three tries in his side's remarkable comeback win from 18-0 down in Townsville at the weekend.
"I keep in contact with Mick, he's a great friend of mine," Hodkinson said of his time at the Bulldogs with Ennis – which started when Hodkinson joined the club in 2011 and only finished when Ennis left for the Shire at the end of last year, playing alongside each other close to 70 times and helping the team to a grand final berth last year.
"At the start of the season when I was copping a bit a slack [about my form] he was one of the first ones to ring me and give me a bit of advice. [I have a] good relationship with Mick and the combination at the Bulldogs will help," Hodkinson added.
It also helps that Ennis is in something like career best form at the Sharks, having won man of the match awards this year prior to his efforts at the weekend.
"I thought he was outstanding last week [against the Cowboys], I sent him a text straight away and told him that. He's been playing some good footy for the Sharks," Hodkinson said.
Hearing from Ennis in his early-season form slump had been a huge boost, he added.
"Just to have him there and give me a chat. He was just saying – I'll probably keep it a bit private but you know, it was just good to hear his voice, he was just getting me upbeat again. Obviously I was pretty hard on myself with how I was playing and that so it was good to hear from him."
Things have turned around completely since then with Hodkinson now in similar club form to that which got him into the Blues side last year and even his goal-kicking – he headed into Origin I with one of the worst strike rates of any frontline kicker in 2015 – now on fire, with five from five in Origin II. Despite the turnaround, Hodkinson said he hadn't changed much.
"Same work, I sort of let it ease off at the start of the week then I get into it from Saturday onwards. I just hit them sweeter in Game Two and they went over which is nice.
"I know how important conversions are in Origin and I think it went to show last year, 6-4 [in the series clinching Origin II win], they're so tight. It definitely helps when it goes through the posts but I'll get practising again and go in there confident."
Video courtest of nswrl.com.au