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Hodgson keen to show he's next in line
Brett Hodgson knows he's a distant No.2, but that won't stop the Wests Tigers custodian pushing his case to be the NSW No.1 when he leads out City Origin at WIN Stadium on Friday night.
Hodgson is a long shot to be the Blues' fullback for the Origin opener on May 21, with incumbent Brett Stewart needing only to prove his fitness to ensure his name is the first read out when NSW selectors name their side.
But Stewart's calf injury, which has ruled him out of the Country side this week, has also shown Hodgson how close he is to adding to his six Origin appearances.
"Playing Origin is definitely still on the radar, it always has been," Hodgson said.
"You've always got to make sure that if you're behind someone that's already got the position like Brett Stewart has, you've got to make sure you push your claims to knock him out or if he gets injured, to make sure the selectors know you're the next best one there.
"That's my goal on Friday night, to make sure selectors know that I can play good in big games."
Of course Blues selectors know exactly what Hodgson can do after he played a leading role in the drawn 2002 Origin series before another solid performance in 2006.
On the latter occasion he was re-instated due to Anthony Minichiello's original back ailment.
Unfortunately Hodgson's Origin memories are also tainted by two fairly forgettable moments.
There's the infamous rag-doll tackle when Gorden Tallis dragged him over the sideline in 2002 and then that wayward pass in game three in 2006 which led to Queensland skipper Darren Lockyer's series-winning try in Melbourne.
While making up for those incidents would no doubt drive Hodgson's hopes of an Origin recall, the off-contract 30-year-old said he just wanted to give selectors another option.
While Stewart possesses blinding speed and an uncanny ability to sniff out a try, Hodgson said he wanted to showcase his ball-playing skills against Country.
"I think I'll jump on the back of Mitch Pearce and Braith (Anasta) a lot more, but if I get an opportunity, I'm sure (City and Tigers coach) Tim (Sheens) will give me a licence to play similar to what I do in club footy," Hodgson said.
"That's my strength, I don't want to go into my shell and not be able to play footy as well - I want to make sure I can bring something to the squad."
The City side trained at WIN Stadium where prop Mark O'Meley gave his tender hamstring a workout.
The Sydney Roosters enforcer remains in some doubt for the clash but is keen to play to push his claims for a Blues call-up.