NSW has the chance to create its own dynasty, says Hodkinson
HE is the last Blues halfback to lift the State of Origin shield.
The first No.7 since Andrew Johns in 2005 to guide NSW to a series victory and the Blues' only pointscorer on that magical night at ANZ Stadium on June 18, 2014.
It was the night Trent Hodkinson entered NSW Origin folklore.
Tonight on the same patch of grass, Hodkinson's message for close mate Mitchell Pearce is simple: "Go and create your own piece of history."
"He's got a great opportunity in front of him.
"Without a doubt it's about creating his own history, the past is the past. All he can control is what's moving forward now.''
And if Pearce steers the Blues to victory over Queensland, Hodkinson believes this NSW team can do what the series-winning "Class of 2014" were never able to do - form a dynasty.
Just three NSW players - Aaron Woods, Jarryd Hayne and Josh Dugan - remain from the series-winning side of 2014.
"Because they're (current Blues) so young - the opportunity for them to build together for a long period of time and dominate, it's very real,'' Hodkinson said.
"If they can get the win together now, they can do it for plenty more years to come.''
Hodkinson remembers crying when NSW coach Laurie Daley phoned him to inform him of his selection at halfback alongside former Canterbury teammate Josh Reynolds for game one in 2014.
"I was holding back the tears - especially when I told Mum and Dad,'' said Hodkinson, who is committed to fighting his way out of Newcastle's NSW Cup side.
"Thinking that I may never get to even put on the Blues jersey or just to get one game, but to go through and win the series in my first year was crazy.
"Then you get told afterwards that you're the first halfback in so many years to win a series for NSW.
"You're just kicking yourself afterwards thinking is this a dream? The next day is like - what has just happened? It's very surreal.''
And that's what Pearce has to look forward to, according to Hodkinson.
They have remained tight since combining in the halves for NSW in all three matches of the 2015 series - which they lost to the Maroons 2-1.
The final Origin of 2015 was Hodkinson's last appearance in the sky-blue.
Pearce texted Hodkinson after the emphatic victory in Origin I three weeks ago, aware the one person who could appreciate the magnitude of this opportunity, was the Knights playmaker.
"I congratulated him on the game, I thought he was outstanding," Hodkinson said.
"Having been there, you still feel a part of it. Although there's only three guys from that year (2014) playing now, you definitely know what they're going through.
"You've been in their shoes. I watch it on TV and see the crowd and get those goosebumps again.
"What would be going through Pearcey's head would be a lot of excitement. He's got the experienced Jimmy (Maloney) by his side to keep him calm.
"The advice for Pearcey would be just to focus on his game and what he can do to the best for the team. That's all I did, I focused and I was lucky that I had enough good teammates to take my mind off the pressure.
"For me it was turning everything off and not thinking about the game, but just day by day going through the process to prepare yourself the best for that day.
"On the flip side, there was a very exciting opportunity. Me and Josh Reynlds roomed together and we just said 'we can make history here'."
They did just that.
Tonight, it's the Class of 2017's moment to do the same.