Both have big-game experience, both experienced wins at NRL level on the weekend, both have donned the VB Blues no.7 jersey throughout their careers – and according to coach Laurie Daley, both Adam Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson are vital to their respective team’s chances in 2017.
South Sydney’s Reynolds and Newcastle’s Hodkinson led their sides nicely in Round 2 of the NRL, with the pair experiencing wins for the first time simultaneously since Round 23, 2015. That, of course, is largely due to the lowly situation in which the Knights found themselves last season – circumstances which played a role in Hodkinson losing the NSW halfback position to his Rabbitohs counterpart. Speaking to NRL 360 on Fox League tonight, Daley couldn’t stress enough how important Reynolds is to the performance of the players around him.
“Great composure, Adam,” Daley began. “He really fits into that structure so well and he can drive the South Sydney team around the park. While they’ll miss ‘GI’ (the injured Greg Inglis), I think he’s the glue that keeps them together.
“He’s probably got the best short kicking game in the competition.”
Queensland Maroons coach Kevin Walters, also on the NRL 360 panel, agreed with the VB Blues mentor.
“How important that last-play kick is,” Walters said. “Whether it is a longer one or a shorter one that’s in good-ball situations, he’s as good as anyone in the competition with his selection of kicks.”
On the same afternoon as the Rabbitohs’ Round 2 demolition of the Sea Eagles, the Knights surprised many with a home win over the Titans – their first victory in 335 days. While the club is still clearly rebuilding, Daley explained that Hodkinson is the perfect player to have as both a halfback and captain in that situation.
“He’s a great leader and he’s a great role model in terms of being a professional – he’s highly respected,” Daley said. “When he goes out there and plays and everyone else is doing their job, ‘Hokko’ can steer the team around as well as anyone in the competition.
“It was just great to see him... going to the line and putting people into holes. The pass selection was better and he looked as though he was confident.”
While Hodkinson is the most recent no.7 to enjoy a NSW series victory – he lifted the shield in 2014 while contracted with the Bulldogs – Reynolds showed plenty of promise to be selected for the VB Blues last season. With the pair set to face off with each other this Saturday afternoon, NSW VB Blues fans will be watching closely to determine which player looks more likely for the position this year.