Queensland veteran Justin Hodges believes Dale Copley is the man to step up for injured Maroons winger Brent Tate in State of Origin III.
Nothing will ease the pain of Queensland’s State of Origin streak ending but Justin Hodges reckons he has a remedy for their backline headache – Brisbane winger Dale Copley.
And Hodges believes the Broncos’ Josh McGuire won’t get a better chance to show he is ready to step up for injured Maroons prop Matt Scott than Friday night’s NRL clash with Paul Gallen’s Cronulla.
Hodges admitted his body was still aching from Queensland’s brutal 6-4 Origin II defeat despite being rested from Brisbane’s last-round loss to the Warriors.
But it seems it is nothing compared to the heartache felt over the Maroons’ unprecedented eight-series run ending.
“The disappointment is still there. You can’t get over it,” he said.
“And I am still sore from Origin. It’s been a big, brutal campaign.”
Just ask Queensland winger Brent Tate who is contemplating his future after suffering his fourth serious knee injury in June 18’s Origin II defeat in Sydney.
While he feels for Tate, Hodges believes Copley has done enough to leapfrog Melbourne’s Will Chambers and earn an Origin III nod.
Chambers was 18th man for Origin I and a member of the extended game-two squad.
However, Hodges believes his on-field understanding with Copley and the right winger’s barnstorming past month should get his teammate over the line.
“With Tatey out, I think it is a good chance for Dale Copley to get a run – he would suit Origin,” Hodges said.
“We play together each week and I feel comfortable with him beside me.
“He wouldn’t let anyone down.”
Copley has started to impose his physical will on opponents this season and Hodges has witnessed first hand his teammate’s inner strength after missing 2013 with a knee injury.
“He’s had some big injuries and, the way he has fought back from them, I think he now deserves his chance – he is ready (for Origin),” he said of Copley, one of the last signings made by the legendary late Broncos’ recruitment chief Cyril Connell.
And Hodges believed the stage was set for McGuire to press his Origin claims lining up against NSW captain Gallen.
“It will be a big chance coming up against Gal and (Luke) Lewis and those guys from Origin,” he said.
“It will be a good indication to see where he is at. Hopefully, he can take that chance.”