NSW halfback Trent Hodkinson says his bubbling relationship with Mitch Pearce clicked immediately and has grown further since being brought into camp for Origin I.
Hodkinson is riding a wave of confidence after helping guide the Blues to victory in Origin II then putting in a season-best effort for the Bulldogs on Monday against the Storm, and his combination with Pearce – who he had never played with until this year – is benefiting from the fact the two get on so well off the field.
The calm, measured Hodkinson said Pearce was a similar sort of character to his Bulldogs halves partner and last year's Origin partner Josh Reynolds, just "more of a space cadet".
"They are very similar – Mitch is probably more of a space cadet," Hodkinson laughed.
"The way they play as well [is similar], it's been good."
The pair didn't come in as complete strangers, having had mutual friends through football, but clicked straight away once they were charged with running an Origin team together.
"It's just gotten better, the combination, on and off the field. We've stayed in contact away from footy which all of us wanted to do," Hodkinson said.
"It showed in Game Two the combination worked better than Game One, although it wasn't bad in game one.
"Hopefully it's on song for Game Three and we can get the boys over the line. We complement each other."
That includes linking up in the middle of the field rather than taking the approach of some club halves where each runs one half of the field, with each having the freedom to roam.
"We combine when we can. Mitch is a quality player and a ball runner as well, I've learnt some things off him," Hodkinson added.
The halfback also brushed suggestions things could get awkward with Reynolds – the man who Pearce displaced in the Blues side this year – being brought into camp to help with training and as cover for hooker Robbie Farah.
"He knows Pearcey from a few Origins ago, he's good mates with him. And I don't mind him as well!" Hodkinson laughed. "He's excited to be here."
Hodkinson said the mood right across the group was high after the Game Two win, although the players weren't getting ahead of themselves.
"We came straight in and we're bubbling. The confidence is high. We know it's going to be tough. We beat them up there [at Suncorp] before last year but it wasn't a decider. It's going to be a lot tougher. I know the boys can't wait."
Pearce was delighted to be able to get back into camp and continue to build on his combination with the Bulldogs playmaker.
"It's been really enjoyable coming back into camp especially after last game, it's exciting times," Pearce said.
"It's good to get back in with Hokko and build on our combinations."