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Battle of the Halves

Jack Novak

A fierce battle looms this Friday night, when Canterbury’s halves pairing of Reynolds and Hodkinson take on Manly’s Foran and Cherry-Evans.

Fresh from leading their state to victory in the cauldron that is Suncorp Stadium, the Bulldogs’ Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson will need to continue their winning ways if they are to upset premiership favourites Manly.

Hodkinson became the first player in history to win an Origin on debut at Suncorp Stadium (formerly Lang Park), and Bulldogs lock Dale Finucane believes the win for NSW will filter down to confidence at club level.

“Knowing that they won that game, gives us a massive lift, we’ll be going in with a little bit of confidence knowing that they’re coming off the rep period and we’ll feel good about ourselves,” said Finucane.

Kieran Foran and Daly-Cherry Evans are the greatest halves pairing at club level in almost a decade, both superstars have reached the pinnacle of their sport, representing New Zealand and Australia respectively, and also winning a premiership with Manly in 2011.

Foran is known for his bruising defence and strong ball running, while DCE is a more skillful player, with a great kicking game and a lanky frame that helps him slide out of tackles.

Reynolds is an energetic ball runner in the style of Brad Fittler (Reynolds favourite player as a child) and is perfectly complimented by the calmness of Hodkinson who is a composed ball player that doesn’t shy away from an important kick or drop goal (or two).

Surprisingly, the more experienced halves combination of Foran and Cherry-Evans are also the younger halves pairing.

Foran, still 23 years old, has played 113 first grade games and 15 Tests for New Zealand while Cherry-Evans, 25, has played 90 games, 3 for QLD and 7 Tests for Australia.

Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson, both 25 years of age, have only 128 games between them (Reynolds 70-Hodkinson 58). However, both were rewarded for their efforts in leading Canterbury to first on the ladder with NSW Origin selection.

In 2010, Trent Hodkinson was still playing for Manly, partnering Kieran Foran in the halves and had less than 10 first grade games of experience. He was rewarded with selection for City in the annual City Country match. ‘Hokko’ was keeping future halfback Daly Cherry-Evans in QLD Cup and was so devastating that he picked up a nice contract at Canterbury beginning in 2011.

This was the year that Daly-Cherry Evans made his NRL debut, won the Rookie of the Year award, guided Manly to their 2nd premiership in 4 years and earned a spot for Australia in the Four Nations competition at years end.

Meanwhile Hodkinson was battling injuries at the Bulldogs and Josh Reynolds was in and out of first grade under former coach Kevin Moore. It wasn’t until 2013 that Reynolds and Hodkinson finally partnered each other in the halves, compared to Foran and Cherry-Evans who are currently in their 4th year together in the Manly number 6 & 7.