State of Origin hero.
NRL grand final inspiration.
Now Trent Hodkinson wants another title as he plans his NRL return from a knee injury – Bulldogs captain.
But Canterbury forward Pat O’Hanlon may yet steal his thunder in the comeback stakes.
This season looms as a hard act to follow for Hodkinson.
The Bulldogs halfback inspired NSW’s drought-breaking Origin series win before defying a serious knee injury to steer Canterbury to the NRL decider.
Yet Hodkinson is hoping a new and improved version emerges in 2015 – hopefully with a “c” against his name.
Hodkinson got a taste of the captaincy when he shared the role with James Graham in the grand final with an injured Michael Ennis sidelined.
With Ennis having shifted to Cronulla, Hodkinson wants a more permanent hold on the title.
“Definitely. It’s something that you dream about as a kid,” he told Bulldogs TV.
“I got a taste of it in the grand final.
“I am never satisfied with my game, there is always room for improvement.
“If the opportunity came I would love to captain the side.”
Hodkinson has already shown he has what it takes to lead with his stirring finals display.
It has emerged that Hodkinson suffered knee cartilage damage in the semi-final against Manly that should have sidelined him for six weeks.
Instead he crashed through the pain barrier, all the way to the grand final.
Hodkinson hopes to begin pre-season training after Christmas.
“I got a clean out of the meniscus I hurt against Manly,” he said.
“The knee is feeling very good, a lot better than I thought it would be.”
Still, Hodkinson’s resilience might be matched by O’Hanlon, who sufferd a gruesome ankle injury similar to that which ended former Brisbane winger Jharal Yow Yeh’s career.
O’Hanlon has only just begun rehab, almost three months after suffering a horror ankle fracture in the first week of the NRL finals.
Like Test winger Yow Yeh, O’Hanlon saw bone sticking through his sock after what seemed an innocuous tackle against Melbourne.
“It was probably not the first thing I thought of but once I got to gather my thoughts I did fear my career may have been over,” O’Hanlon said.
He remained in Melbourne for a week following immediate surgery where he had a plate and six screws inserted.
O’Hanlon then returned to Sydney but could only watch as his teammates won through to a shot at NRL premiership glory.
He is quietly confident of marking a return after an encouraging start to rehab.
“If I work hard at my rehab and the process that comes with getting the ankle right, I definitely think I will play again,” he said.