Tonga stakes Origin claim - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tonga stakes Origin claim

By Brent Read 05/06/2004 06:02:16 AM Comments (0)

Bulldogs centre Willie Tonga may have played his way into the Queensland team with the match of his life at Telstra Stadium.

Sydney Roosters counterpart Justin Hodges, on the other hand, was left praying for a State of Origin miracle after being sent off in the second half of the Bulldogs' thumping 40-12 win.

Tonga was the undoubted star of the show, scoring three tries and having a hand in three others as the 'Dogs blitzed the Roosters in a performance which erased any doubts over whether they could win the premiership.

But every show must have a villain and Hodges ended up playing that part.

The 22-year-old was disappointing on the Queensland wing in Origin I and was struggling to hold onto his Maroons jersey before the match.

He can kiss it goodbye now after being given his marching orders for a high tackle on Bulldogs captain Steve Price in the 49th minute.

"It's disappointing in big games for a player to be sent off," Price said.

"It was unfortunate because I know you don't mean to do those things in big games. I'm sure that Justin didn't mean it, he's not that sort of player."

Hodges' loss may be Tonga's gain, with the Canberra-born outside back having a field day against the 2002 premiers in front of Queensland selectors Gene Miles and Des Morris.

Tonga, who joined the Bulldogs this year from Parramatta after playing only three first grade games in 2003, moved to the Queensland town of Cherbourg - home of former Maroons and Australian centre Steve Renouf - when he was 13.

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