Hodkinson Guarantees he'll Step up for NSW
Bulldogs halfback Trent Hodkinson readily admits his form this year isn't where he'd like it to be but has guaranteed NSW coach Laurie Daley will see the best of him if he is rewarded with another Blues jersey.
Seven days before Daley announces whether he is sticking solid with his incumbent halfback, the softly-spoken 26-year-old would rather focus on helping his club side bounce back from its two straight losses with a win against the Roosters and talk about anything other than Origin.
He tries not to read the headlines or let the speculation affect him.
In fact you get the feeling Trent Hodkinson would rather be anywhere else than smack-bang in the middle of the bright glare of the State of Origin spotlight.
The problem is that Origin glare is magnified exponentially by the fact he and fellow Blues incumbent, Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds, are preparing to face off against the two players fighting to displace them from that side: Roosters halves Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney.
Much has been made of the recent form of all four players; more than Hodkinson would like. But come what may, if he gets the chance, Hodkinson is adamant he'll be ready for the game's fiercest cauldron on May 27 if he gets the chance.
He told media on Tuesday the build up to this year's Origin series, as an incumbent, is drastically different to last year and he felt a measure of sympathy for the scrutiny Pearce has found himself under for so long at this time of the season.
"It's a lot different. Obviously being the incumbent, it's funny, there is so much talk going around. There is a lot more pressure. This time last year I wasn't even in the frame so it was a bit easier," Hodkinson said.
"I now know how 'Pearcey' feels. For so many years he has been getting hammered and I've felt it now. It's not the best but you've got to ignore it which I've tried to do. It comes with it, I've just got to cop it.
"I've seen over the years how much he has copped it and I can feel it a bit this year."