Justin Hodges plays Origin through grief for aunty

AN EMOTIONAL Justin Hodges played his final State of Origin game in Brisbane last night with a very heavy heart after his closest aunty passed away while he was in Origin camp late last week.

After kicking his first and only goal in his 24-game Origin career to complete a 52-6 demolition job on NSW, Hodges revealed his closest aunty, Cheryl, who was like a second mum to him, had died last Friday.

"I am heading up to Cairns tomorrow for her funeral," he said in a packed Maroons dressing room after the biggest win in 35 years of Origin.

"I hope she is smiling.

"It was pretty tough but I had the support of the boys, they all knew what had happened.

"I'll join the family tomorrow and pay my respects.

"She played a big part in my life when I was younger, she was always like our second mother. It's a sad moment, but she will be looking down smiling.

"That's all she wanted, Queensland to win."

Hodges said everyone was blown away by the magnitude of the scoreline.

"It's Origin.

"When you've got great players around the park GI (Greg Inglis), Smithy (Cameron Smith), Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston, the brains they've got."

Unlike his former captain Darren Lockyer, who ended his representative career, Hodges kicked the final conversion even though he admitted he's been very nervous and not the keen to sign off his magnificent Origin career by missing.

He didn't have to worry, after lining up the kick he struck it sweetly over the black dot.

It is another great memory for his bulging scrap book that may yet deliver him a third grand final win with Brisbane in October.

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