Two of the most in form halfbacks in the competition will come head to head this Friday night at Allianz Stadium as Canterbury’s Trent Hodkinson takes on Sydney’s Mitchell Pearce.
Since arriving at Belmore after an impressive rookie season for Manly in 2010 that saw him achieve representative honours for City Origin, Trent Hodkinson only played a handful of games for the club before injuries ruined season 2011 & 2012.
After finally nailing a first grade spot in early 2013, Hodkinson has worked extremely hard on his game and his halves partnership with Josh Reynolds and he believes he’s close to finding the form he displayed in 2010.
“Hopefully not too far away. I’m confident in my body at the moment, I’ve had a few injuries the past few years and it’s taken a while to get back to full strength. Hopefully I can continue to play some decent footy and we’ll see how we go,” said Hodkinson.
Hodkinson leads the competition for points scored, with a total of 46 points from 4 games, including a massive 18 points against the Sharks when he scored a try and kicked seven goals from seven attempts.
He ranks equal 2nd in the competition for try assists with 5 from 4 matches, only 2 behind Josh Reynolds who leads the NRL with 6 try assists from 4 matches. Not only is he setting up tries but he can score them too. For the first time in his career, Hodkinson has scored a try in his last three games (3 tries in 4 games).
“He’s going really well, his talk and direction on the field is getting us around the park, and that’s what you want from a halfback. And he’s kicking really well as a goal kicker,” said Bulldogs prop Tim Browne in regards to Hodkinson.
Mitchell Pearce has been in the form of his career, silencing the critics that said he couldn’t play in big games when he led the Roosters to the 2013 Premiership alongside fellow NSW Blue James Maloney. He hasn’t slowed down and is already the front-runner to pull on the number 7 jersey for the Blues again this year.
Representing NSW 12 times in the last 4 years, Pearce has never won an Origin series, however he’s played in 2 grand finals and won 1. Proving he’s still among the best halfbacks in the game, Pearce leads the competition in line-break assists with 8 from 4 games this year, taking the Roosters tally of line-breaks to 22.
The halfbacks won’t have much of a physical battle with each other, but will be the masterminds behind their teams go forward and attack.
Pearce has formed devastating combinations with edge players Boyd Cordner and Sonny Bill Williams. Corder represented NSW Origin in Game 3 of 2013 and SBW is a dual international. This will really test the combination that Hodkinson has with big men Tony Williams and Frank Pritchard, who have both represented their country as well.
“Origin halves, one of the best pairings in the game. Coming off winning the comp last year, they were a big part of their success. Big test for me and Josh and hopefully we can get the two points,” said Hodkinson.