Being selected for the Queensland Maroons is an honour

Being selected for the Queensland Maroons is an honour.

I remember when I first got selected for the Queensland Maroons. I think I was 19 or 20, so I was only young.

There was a sense of anticipation. You knew around that time you were going to get a phone call… every time the phone rang that day there was the anticipation of hearing Wayne’s voice of Geno’s voice, telling you you’d been selected.

I remember when Wayne called me and said ‘you’re going to be part of this year’s series’, there was a great sense of satisfaction.

Justin Hodges in his first Queensland team photo in 2002. Photo: QRL Media
Justin Hodges in his first Queensland team photo in 2002. Photo: QRL Media

I remember trying to talk calm on the phone before I jumped off and I was jumping around in the lounge room.

I rang mum and dad straight away because it’s just so satisfying that all that hard work finally paid off.

I was chasing my dream of playing for Queensland.

The two people before me, who really stood out for me and inspired me were Steve Renouf and Gordy Tallis.

Renouf, being a centre… I liked how he played and what the jersey meant to him.

Then the big person I always tried to be like was Gordy Tallis. That intimidating factor.

Gordon Tallis in action for Queensland in 2001. Photo: NRL Images
Gordon Tallis in action for Queensland in 2001. Photo: NRL Images

Every New South Wales person hated him, but it meant he was doing something right. He was winning series, he was being aggressive.

You could always see his pride; that he loved Queensland. You could see every time he wore that jersey, it meant something to him.

He was the one guy I used to love watching play for Queensland; I knew he was going to rip and tear every single time.

The excitement and goosebumps you would get every time you watched the big GT go out there and try to bash the Blues; it was great. 

When I’d been part of the team that went on on that winning run for a while, I still, every time my name was read out, thought ‘thank God’.

Justin Hodges lined up with Queensland team mates in 2007. Photo: QRL Media
Justin Hodges lined up with Queensland team mates in 2007. Photo: QRL Media

Even though I was there for a long period of time, you know I played 24 games; every series came around, every year came around, I still hoped and prayed my name was on that piece of paper they called out from.

That’s the good thing about Queensland. You can never be satisfied, thinking you’ve got your position, because there’s always a good young kid coming through.

To represent Queensland is an honour.

The satisfaction and everything you get from it, is mind blowing.

Being a young kid, being a teenager, I got to live out my dream pretty quickly; it was unbelievable.

The advice I’d give my younger self, or the young guys on the cusp of making it now, would be to just keep playing the football that you’re playing for your club.

Justin Hodges in action for Queensland in 2013. Photo: NRL Images
Justin Hodges in action for Queensland in 2013. Photo: NRL Images

Especially when you’re a young guy who hasn’t made it, or you’ve played one or two or three games, you worry about saving yourself or you worry about being selected… if I could go back I would tell myself, 'just be relaxed and play good football'.

Because at the end of the day, you get selected because you’re obviously performing for your club side.

The coaches and selectors will have faith in you if you’re playing some great football and you’re playing better than other players in line; nine times out of 10 you’re going to get selected.

Basically, just keeping working hard, keep doing little things. Don’t give selectors and coaches a chance not to pick you.

Even if you miss Game I or Game II, there’s always Game III. 

Don’t drop your standard. Keep your standards high.

If it’s not this year, well then obviously you’ve got to work even harder for next year. That’s the advice I would give, for sure.

Because remember, being part of the Maroons is an honour.