What Origin Means To: Steve Turner
Two years ago, two blokes spent just about the entire season together in rehab out at Belmore.
They had both done their knees, both were down on luck, and both were questioning whether all this pain, all this hard work, perseverance and toil, was worth it.
In the end though, they both made it back. Except that one of them played just one more game, while the other has since soared to State of Origin-level heights, and is destined to stay there for a long time.
"Eighteen months ago, if anyone asked me if Trent Hodkinson would be the next Origin halfback, you'd probably say not, with what he went through," Steve Turner tells NRL.com.
"I was there in 2012 with him when he was injured. I ruptured my patella tendon. I spent that whole year with him because he was injured as well. It was a tough period for myself and him because obviously the club had a great success that year, playing in the grand final.
"And when you're in an injured group or in the rehab group, you sometimes feel like you're a bit of an outcast to the remainder of the squad."
Yet here we are today, with Hodkinson a major cog in helping end Queensland's eight-year reign in the Origin arena.
Turner was there once. Just once. All the way back in 2008, when he was a shining light in Melbourne's grand-final winning team and had NSW coach Craig Bellamy in his pocket.
The Blues were up 1-0 in the series when Jarryd Hayne was suspended for a dangerous tackle, throwing their preparations for Game Two into disarray.
"It was a pretty surreal at the time. Obviously I'd been spoken about, Craig was the coach and when he rang me early in the week after the team had been announced and Jarryd went to the judiciary and was ruled out and rang me, I was pretty stoked and pumped and excited and overawed," he said.
"I didn't know what to expect obviously because the team had already been in camp for a few days and I come in late so I missed the first part of the camp or the week and joined the team late but look it was just a great experience."
History will show that Queensland went on to pump the Blues 30-0 before sealing their third series win in a row with a typically tense 16-10 victory in Game Three.
What history won't show is how beloved that one jumper is to Turner. How that one, unspectacular game will stay with him well into his retirement.
"It's frame... it's still blue, not many grass stains. It's got footprints of GI on it," he jokes.
"[But] it's something I hold dearly to me. It's something that you look back in time and say you've been in that arena.
"Although it wasn't the most satisfying of debuts, it's something I'll always remember, playing Origin and playing up at Suncorp with 60,000 fans that are screaming they hate you.
"There's probably a minute percentage up there that were supporting the Blues. But look, it was a great experience, just being there with the likes of Mark Gasnier, Willie Mason.
"I played outside of Gasnier. It was a great experience, to experience a week like that, see what it's all about. Because everyone wants to play Origin. You see how much the Origin build-up has become over the last few years and it's almost become the biggest event of our game."
First appeared on NRL.com