NSW are set to threaten Queensland’s defensive line even more, with halfback Trent Hodkinson intending to take on the Maroons and lift his running game after finishing the opening encounter with just one run.
If there was a criticism of Hodkinson’s debut game, it was his lack of willingness to take the ball to the line. He was tackled just once, making nine metres after scooping up a loose ball from broken play in the first half.
Only three halfbacks in the past 10 years of Origin have made one run – Peter Wallace (2008), Brett Finch (2006) and Cooper Cronk in game one this year before he was taken from the field injured. The trio made less than 10 metres. Brett Kimmorley ran twice in 2009 for five metres.
In contrast, two players; Andrew Johns (102 metres from nine runs in 2005) and Johnathan Thurston (131 metres from 13 runs in 2006) have been the only halfbacks to break the 100-metre barrier in an Origin game in the past 10 years.
Hodkinson said he wanted to run the ball more on Wednesday night.
“I thought I went OK but there's always room for improvement,” Hodkinson said. “Coming in this time, I'll take a lot of confidence out of game one and work on some things I want to do better personally. I just have to nail my role for the team and bark the orders and steer the boys around.
“It is [hard]. You have to pick your time [to run] well. There were a couple of opportunities there where I thought I could have ran but I didn't and just passed it. It's something I'll be looking at working on – taking a few more lines and challenging the line a bit more.”
Running isn’t a big feature of Hodkinson’s game, the 25-year-old averaging 4.3 runs per game and an average of 42.8 metres each game for Canterbury this year. He is complemented by club and Origin teammate Josh Reynolds, who thrives on taking the ball to the line. Reynolds carried the ball 11 times for 96 metres in Origin I. Cronk’s replacement, Daly Cherry-Evans, also made 11 runs, for 68 metres while Queensland five-eighth Thurston was kept relatively contained as he made 32 metres from four runs.
Blues coach Laurie Daley said there was no extra expectation on Hodkinson to take the line on.
“He's a guy that brings a real calmness and composure to our team,” Daley said. “If he runs the ball a bit more that's fine but I'm certainly not looking for him to play a Johnathan Thurston-type role. He's a guy who has got enormous respect and the guys really enjoy playing with him. He's tough, he's competitive and is someone who is really important for us.”
NSW assistant coach Brad Fittler has challenged Hodkinson to run more freely in game two.
“Hopefully he runs more,” Fittler said. “He seemed to do his job which was asked of him. Josh ran a lot so statistically together they did a good job. You need your halfback to run, definitely. Hopefully he gets the chance to.”
Least metres in the past decade
- Peter Wallace 2008 Game 2, 1 run for 3 metres.
- Cooper Cronk 2014 Game 1, 1 run for 4 metres.
- Brett Kimmorley 2009 Game 3, two runs for 5 metres
- Brett Finch 2006 Game 2, 1 run for 8 metres.
- Trent Hodkinson 2014 Game 1, 1 run for 9 metres.
Sourced by Sportsdata