Justin Hodges has experienced the highs and lows of rugby league at the highest level. He’s hoping the lessons he’s learnt will help rising stars at the Dolphins develop as players and young men.
The former Broncos, Roosters, Maroons and Australian player has joined the Dolphins’ coaching team as assistant along with former NRL, Blues and Australian player Scott Hill.
Hodges joined the coaching team in October, after chatting with former Maroons teammate and Dolphins head coach Adam Mogg.
“I was doing the Queensland 20s and had done Queensland assistant coaching with Kevvie (Walters) and just wanted to do some full-time coaching and get in the week-to-week stuff and learn,” Hodges explains.
“I thought what a great place to learn out at Redcliffe. They’ve got a proud history – I played against them when I was with the (Toowoomba) Clydesdales. I played Origin with Moggy and it made it that little bit easier just knowing he’s a good coach, it’s a great club and what a good time to be part of something special. And they’ve got a bid for the NRL as well.”
Wealth of experience
Hodges says he, Mogg and Hill have a great deal of experience between them that he’s hoping the players will tap into.
“We’re just trying to help these young men grow and reach their potential. If there’s any way we can help them in terms of developing their game but also taking a look at the angles they’re not so good at whether that’s defence or attack or talk or fitness … Just encouraging them to try to get the best out of themselves,” he says.
His focus will be on working with players in the “back five”, but he’s happy to do whatever he can to help the entire squad.
“Obviously, that’s where I’ve always enjoyed playing and I’ve got a lot of knowledge about, but (it’s about) just trying to help those young guys in terms of getting them out of bad habits or teaching them things that may help them,” he explains.
“I’ll have my eye on them as much as possible throughout the season, going through video and understanding the way they play … obviously also looking at the opposition centres and fullbacks as well and trying to educate our guys as much as possible – reading their game, when to attack and when not to and what to look for.”
Hodges, of Albany Creek, will juggle his coaching gig with his full-time role with the Beyond the Broncos program which mentors Indigenous students in more than 50 schools.
“We run workshops and develop them as well. That’s something I’m big on, passing the message through and trying to help those kids as well to reach their potential, to inspire and to be whatever they want to be. It comes hand-in-hand with the work that we do at school and the knowledge I’ve gained through footy and now I’m trying to pass it on to these young men (at the Dolphins).”
And those young Dolphins players have already made a good impression on their new assistant coach.
“Sometimes, when you’re a bit of an outsider and you come into a side, it can take a while. But the boys have really responded and whatever advice you give, they take it on board and really try to make themselves better and that makes you feel good as well,” Hodges says.
“I think they’re a special bunch. We’ve got that connection now with the Warriors as well, so getting those players back and putting them into the fold with this group of players … we’re going to be a very healthy club.
“I think even who we have at the moment – if you put those boys out on the park, they’re going to be very competitive. Just their work ethic, they’re committed to training.
“The boys just know what they have to do, they’re committed, they all help each other so I think that’s the best thing I’ve noticed so far.”
Is this a one-season deal?
“Hopefully longer. It will obviously depend on how we go and what Moggy wants,” Hodges says.
“I’d like to hang around as long as possible and then one day coach somewhere myself and get a hold of a football side, because you can’t be a head coach in the NRL without being a head coach either in a state league or going overseas.
“In the meantime, I’m really enjoying being an assistant and doing what I can and learning from Moggy.”
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