Hodges puts heat on Panther Jennings - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hodges puts heat on Panther Jennings

By Todd Balym 28/05/2009 05:29:59 PM Comments (0)

Queensland centre Justin Hodges says NSW rookie Michael Jennings will be "scared" next week and he plans a State of Origin initiation to turn his debut into a nightmare.

Igniting their highly anticipated battle at Etihad Stadium next Wednesday, Hodges says he and winger Israel Folau will do all they can to get into the 21-year-old Penrith star's face and rattle him out of the contest.

"It's his first Origin so obviously he is probably going to be a little bit scared of the occasion," said Hodges on Thursday.

"Like everyone who comes into Origin in your first game you do get a little bit scared and all those types of things. I'm sure me and Izzy (Folau) and those guys will be right up in his face.

"I just have to go out there and worry about my job and I'm pretty sure I can contain him quite well."

Hodges praised Jennings as a talented attacking player, but agreed with some critics who suggested the 21-year-old's defence could be questionable in the Origin spotlight.

"He is a great player," he said.

"Everyone always talks about his attack ability, (but) obviously everyone does have a down side in their game and that (defence) is probably his.

"But I'm pretty sure they will work hard on that and it's up to guys like myself, Locky (Darren Lockyer) and Izzy (Folau) to try and make those gaps happen."

Hodges knows a thing or two about Origin nerves.

His 2002 debut on the wing for Queensland ended in tears as he twice passed the ball in his own in-goal area to gift NSW tries, although the Maroons still won the game.

While he has recovered from the setback to establish himself as the premier centre in Australia, the memories are obviously still raw with the Brisbane star.

"Yeah, I don't want to talk about that," he said when reminded how he could relate to debut nerves.

In-form prop Ben Hannant also put the pressure firmly on the Blues on Thursday, questioning how NSW's rookie front rowers Justin Poore and Michael Weyman would handle the added physicality and speed of Origin football.

Hannant played all three games off the bench last year and says it took him at least 10-20 minutes to adapt to the higher intensity.

"Origin football is a different game of football and we have to wait and see how they handle the pace and physical side of the game," said Hannant.

"It's definitely a lot faster and a lot more physical but in saying that you definitely lift for these games and it brings out the best in all players.

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