Hodges considers Origin comeback
Former Maroons centre Justin Hodges has revealed that Queensland coach Kevin Walters approached him about an Origin comeback in 2016 in the wake of the long-term injury suffered by Will Chambers.
For the first time in a decade - and in Walters' first game in charge of Queensland - the Maroons backline has a number of vacancies that need to be filled given the retirement of Hodges and injuries to Chambers and Billy Slater.
Chambers was last week ruled out for three months with a foot injury that will see him miss the entire 2016 Holden State of Origin Series, prompting Walters to enquire as to whether Hodges had three more games in his almost 34-year-old hamstrings.
Whether it was said in jest or he was genuinely planting a seed, Walters at the very least got Hodges thinking before the veteran of 24 matches for Queensland turned down the chance at a comeback.
"I think he was just mucking around but at the same time when you say it to a player who has only just recently retired you do think about it, I won't lie about that," Hodges told NRL.com.
"You ask any player, if someone mentions to you about playing Origin, you'd give anything to play.
"When Willie Chambers went down he asked me how fit I was and whether I'd been doing any training. I said I'd been doing a little bit but I told him, 'I think I'm done.'
"I won't lie, when he texted me I was second-guessing, thinking maybe I could do that.
"I've only been retired for six months, it's just like having a six-month injury and you're just coming back for your first game.
"That's what I was thinking in my head but my wife said, 'You're not playing, pull your head in.'
"She told me to move on and to stop thinking about it."
While previous coach Mal Meninga had a largely blessed run with injuries that enabled him to keep basically the same team together year on year, Walters has a few selection headaches to address prior to naming his first team.
Along with the injuries to Slater and Chambers calls are growing for Darius Boyd to assume the fullback role and for Greg Inglis to move back to the centres with Broncos winger Corey Oates and Cowboys pair Justin O'Neill and Kyle Feldt all floated as possible Origin debutants.
Hodges played every game in the past four series for Queensland and can see now how fortunate they were to field such a quality team on such a regular basis.
"If you look at the team that we had we have been pretty blessed to be part of a dynasty that had so many great players and everyone came through at the same time," Hodges said.
"Kevvie has taken over the reins and has got a few injury concerns there and he's going to miss a couple of his star players but in saying that there are other quality players that can fill that void."
In his exclusive column for NRL.com on Thursday, Justin Hodges names the Queensland backline he would pick for Game One on June 1 in Sydney.