Trent Hodkinson brought an official end to his career yesterday after finally succumbing to a long-term and ultimately career-ending knee injury.
The former Sea Eagle, Bulldog and Shark has become one of the NRL’s poster boys off-field in recent years after a series of genuinely brilliant gestures.
No one will soon forget the night he took a young fan by the name of Hannah to her formal. This was just one of many such occasions Hodkinson went above and beyond for fans and the greater game in general.
The announcement had me thinking about his rugby league career as a whole. Unfortunately, the past few seasons have become remembered for constant knee injuries, but looking at his accomplishments Trent Hodkinson may be one of the NRL’s most underrated recent stars.
Over a nine-year career, Hodkinson played 175 NRL games across four clubs, which included a trip to the Grand Final.
Despite those stats, he will best be remembered for his heroics in sky blue in 2014.
Chosen to partner club-mate Josh Reynolds as the halves for New South Wales, Hodkinson crossed for the only try in Game Two. He then slotted the match and series-winning conversion which saw the Blues end an eight-year Origin slump.
Eight Years! Ended by Trent Hodkinson!
Many players had tried and failed before him. The who’s who of rugby league halves.
Bird, Mullen, Wallace. No deal!
Trent Hodkinson was the man to end the most dominant era in State of Origin.
He scored the try. He kicked the conversion. Make no mistake, this was not an instance of Hodksinon hiding for 76 minutes then popping up to claim glory. He was the go-to guy for the majority of games one and two.
That alone should see him immortalised in the minds of those south of the tweed. I still remember the break and the try scored in the 71st minute.
Hodkinson would play six Origin games for the Blues.
Outside of his brief yet extremely successful Origin stint, Hodkinson should be remembered for taking the Bulldogs to a highly unlikely Grand Final appearance.
Although they were ultimately reduced to fodder on that Sunday evening at the hands of a red hot Rabbitohs side, the finals charge led by Hodkinson and Reynolds is the stuff of legends.
The Bulldogs ended the regular season in 7th. They missed the top four by four competition points and a huge differential.
These stats, statistically, should have relegated them to also-rans at the pointy end of the season.
Incredibly they would beat the Storm, in Melbourne, in round one of the finals, then go on to defeat the red hot Sea Eagles.
Manly, who finished second, were title favourites from memory. They finished behind the Roosters on points differential but had the best squad in the game at the time.
Who kicked two field goals in that game to send them through? … Trent Hodkinson!
After dumping Manly, the Dogs went on to flip the Panthers who were coming off an incredible one-point win over the Roosters.
In that run they beat 6th, 2nd and 4th on their way to a Grand Final match up with the Bunnies. No team has been able to match that kind of effort since, and I can’t see 2019 being any different.
Hodkinson was a star at Manly but went to another level in taking the Dogs to a Grand Final.
He would join Newcastle as a marquee signing but unfortunately did not enjoy success. That said, Joey Johns himself would not have lifted that Knights side to anything of note, and I believe the circumstances in the Hunter may have taken some shine off Hodkinson’s prior achievements.
A late-career move to the Sharks answered a halves SOS. He would play a part in the infamous 33 penalty game where he was one of very few players who kept their head that game and didn’t fall into the whistle-a-thon.
He would ultimately return to Manly to once again answer an SOS of sorts bringing an incredible career full circle.
Make no mistake, he is no Joey Johns. That said, he has something on his resume that VERY few modern-day halfbacks outside Cronk and Thurston can claim; an Origin series victory.
His career contains much more than just ‘that’ try, but if there’s only one moment in a career can be remembered by, a series-winning Origin try is a moment that is right up there.