Canterbury forward James Graham would be ecstatic if halfback Trent Hodkinson received a representative jumper as a reward for his explosive start to the season – but he'd want it to be England's battle colours rather than the sky blue of NSW.
Hodkinson has earned the reputation as the iceman of the NRL after sealing victories in the Bulldogs' past two games with last-gasp field goals. However, his teammates, Graham especially, were adamant he possessed an all-round game worthy of the representative arena.
''Everyone seems to focus a lot on his kicking,'' Graham said on Wednesday. ''He is kicking very well with his place kicking, his conversions and a few dropped goals but I think defensively and in attack with the ball he's playing well, too.''
After being asked whether Hodkinson was poised to add to the City Origin jumper he earned while at Manly in 2010, Graham said he had lobbied hard for Hodkinson to play for England in last year's World Cup.
''His dad is English and he has actually spoke quite passionately about seeing Trent play [for England] and I know that it's been in the back of Trent's mind,'' Graham said. ''I'd love to see him line up next to me in an English [jumper].
''[England's] coach Steve [McNamara] did ask me about him. I think Steve gets quite a few reminders that people can qualify for England and I said, 'Look, this guy is genuine, he definitely wants to play, he's not someone wanting just to play in the World Cup.'
"For whatever reason Steve didn't go that way but hopefully, if Trent can produce form and still has that passion, that desire, to play for England, maybe one day it might come true.''
Besides being an ardent supporter of the Bulldogs' No.7 Graham prided himself on being a good mate who offered support when Hodkinson battled with self doubt after a series of injuries, including a chronic knee problem that required stem-cell surgery.
''To go through one rehab [only] to do something totally different and then go through that to something else, it's never nice to see,'' Graham said of Hodkinson's horror run which denied him a playing role in the 2012 grand final.
''I know from speaking to him that he was questioning himself a little bit. I guess he was wondering whether there was light at the end of the tunnel.
''You try and tell him there is light at the end of the tunnel, but it's hard, to be honest, because you don't know necessarily if there is. I've seen a few blokes go through it and they don't come out the other end ... you have to support them and be someone [they can] talk to in their time of need.
''[Hodkinson] was struggling. He's such a credit to himself and his family for coming out the other end. I can't harp on the point enough about how he keeps trying to improve. He's not resting on his laurels – he wants to improve and go to another level.''
Read more: http://www.smh.com.a...l#ixzz2zjnEI1Qr
Have to say I disagree. England should not be picking heritage players in the team imo, it just papers over cracks with regards to our development. Arguably the best half in the NRL at the moment is English, Gareth Widdop, then we have up and coming talents like Sneyd, Hampshire Sutcliffe and Powell looking to break through. I don't think we should pick players who will just jump ship to Origin the first chance they get. I know some people will say 'Union and Cricket do it, so why shouldn't we?' well that would be like accepting that our development is so bad we have to rely on heritage players and is not good for the long term development of the England side. I can't say the last two NRL heritage players we picked were a massive improvement to the team. This is also what I worry about with MacNamara being based in Oz, he will be sounding out as many heritage players as possible.