Hodges proud to be part of first channel dedicated to NRL
FOX Sports' new 24/7 rugby league channel, Fox League, is the answer to NRL fans' long-held prayers but for former Brisbane, Queensland and Australian centre Justin Hodges it is another opportunity to challenge himself.
"Football always came easy. As a professional league player you knew you didn't have to try too hard as it came naturally, but to be on TV and to host and be a part of something as big as Fox Sports is massive and it's something that will put me out of my comfort zone,” he said.
"That's something I look forward to, challenging myself. It's a perfect role.”
Hodges retired at the end of the 2015 season, which culminated with the 251-game veteran playing in a golden-point grand final loss against the North Queensland Cowboys, and has spent the 18 months since adjusting to his new life.
He made his first move to the small screen last year as co-host of NITV's League Nation Live and will this year be one of the faces of the newest inclusion to the Fox Sports stable, alongside Matty Johns, Yvonne Sampson and an extensive line-up of league legends including Corey Parker, Mal Meninga, Kevin Walters and Gorden Tallis.
Hodges said he found the transition from field to screen tough at first but it was the perfect step for a 34-year-old who thrives on setting - and smashing - challenges.
"The first three or four weeks being on live TV were a challenge, you always have to be mindful of what you say as it's live TV - there's no room for error,” he said.
"Being on live TV was a challenge but throughout the year on League Nation Live it was something that really grew and something I loved doing; getting on TV and talking footy, which is something I love and I'm very passionate about.”
League Nation Live was discontinued for 2017, though Hodges will take the lessons he picked up on the weekly show and apply them to his new role at Fox League.
Hodges, who is Brisbane's National Youth Competition side's assistant coach, said he was happy to work wherever he was needed, including on the Super Saturday show, in the commentary box and hosting shows during the week, on the channel he described as an exciting development for league fans.
"I think it's what everyone is looking for, especially having a 24-hour channel for league,” he said.
"It's going to be a first and something I've been looking forward to being a part of.
"Everyone loves their sport, everyone loves their league. It's going to be something amazing and I'm happy to be a part of it.”
Hodges said his primary aim was to be a voice for the players.
"It's something we don't have too often but I've got to stand by our players and be a voice for them,” he said.
Fox League will be switched on on Friday, February 24 on channel 502 and all programs will fire up on Monday ahead of the NRL 2017 Premiership's first round, which kicks off on Thursday, March 2.
Monday Night with Matty Johns, 7.30pm: Monday Night with Matty Johns returns in 2017 at the new, family-friendly time of 7.30pm. Matty Johns and his regular crew of Gorden Tallis, Bryan Fletcher, Nathan Hindmarsh and Lara Pitt will wrap up the round's action with plenty of laughs along the way.
NRL 360, Monday-Wednesday at 6.30pm: From Monday to Wednesday, Ben Ikin and Paul Kent set the NRL agenda by dissecting all the big talking points impacting the game from every angle.
On the Couch with Sterlo, 7.30pm: League legend Peter Sterling is joined each week by NRL greats Corey Parker, Michael Ennis and Steve "Blocker” Roach, plus NRL newsbreaker James Hooper for On the Couch with Sterlo. Some of the biggest names in the game will join the team on the couch, plus Sterlo sits down with current and former players for insightful one-on-one interviews.
League Life, 7.30pm: League Life will see Yvonne Sampson, Lara Pitt, Jess Yates and Hannah Hollis combine for Australia's first all-female sports panel show, League Life, each Wednesday night. The 30-minute program will deliver topical discussion and debate about the key issues and talking points along with stories from grassroots and those living the League Life.
Queenslanders Only, 8pm: By Queenslanders. For Queenslanders. This is the show all NRL fans in Queensland have been waiting for. Robert "Crash” Craddock is joined by a rotating panel of Queensland Rugby League legends, including Mal Meninga, Kevin Walters, Gorden Tallis, Corey Parker and Justin Hodges for a special take on the NRL news.
League 13-to-1, 6.30pm: Tara Rushton and Braith Anasta combine to remember some of the greatest moments in NRL history each Thursday night on League 13-to-1. With a new theme each week, some of the biggest names in the game will join the duo to relive past glories and stories.
Thursday Night League from 7pm: Rugby League finds a new home on Thursday nights, with a blockbuster clash set to start the weekend early. Thursday Night League will launch the round, with host Yvonne Sampson combining with an expert panel to deliver the best discussion and analysis of the game each week. Some of the biggest names to have played the game, including Matty Johns, Mark Gasnier, Michael Ennis, Corey Parker, Justin Hodges and Braith Anasta will feature alongside Fox League presenter Megan Barnard to guide viewers throughout the night.
The Late Show with Matty Johns, 10pm: NRL fans will have more Matty in 2017 with Matty Johns and his regular team of Gorden Tallis, Nathan Hindmarsh, Bryan Fletcher and The Professor teaming up for The Late Show with Matty Johns each Thursday night after for a preview of the weekend's footy.
Friday Night Footy, from 5.30pm: Fox League will be the only place to catch the weekend's opening double-header, with host Matt Shirvington joined by a rotating panel of experts, including Mark Gasnier, Kevin Walters, Justin Hodges, Braith Anasta and Steve Roach to preview and review the action, while Megan Barnard delivers the latest news throughout the night.
Super Saturday, 3pm: Fox League's biggest day of NRL action returns in 2017, with up to three live, games back-to-back on Super Saturday. Matt Shirvington will host the opening match from the ground, before Yvonne Sampson takes the reigns from Fox League HQ.
Sunday Ticket, from 1pm: Jess Yates steps into the hosting chair on Sundays alongside Braith Anasta, Michael Ennis and Lara Pitt to deliver a double-header on Sunday Ticket. League
Legends, 6.30pm: Hosted by one of Australia's most respected TV sports journalists,Tim Sheridan, League Legends is a series of insightful one-on-one interviews with some of the biggest names to have ever played the game.