Hodgey has been 'awesome', says Lions young gun
FROM one No.1 draft pick to another, Brisbane Lions young gun Cameron Rayner cannot believe the negativity being directed at teammate Luke Hodge.
Both arrived at the club at the end of last season, Hodge after spending 17 seasons with Hawthorn, Rayner following a decorated junior career in the north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
Like so many others at Brisbane, Rayner was instantly taken under the four-time premiership Hawk's wing.
"I was two years old when Hodgey got drafted (as No.1 in 2001). He's been through it all," Rayner said.
"He just told me to go out there and be confident, play my footy and the rest will come, not to worry about all the outside noise, and just focus on doing all the right things at training, in the gym, at rehab."
While Rayner enjoyed his best game for the Lions in last week's defeat to reigning premier Richmond, gathering 22 touches, including a team-high 12 contested, Hodge came under fire for his performance.
The 33-year-old picked up 23 disposals, but heat came from the five clangers he accumulated.
AFL greats such as Danny Frawley had questioned whether Hodge should be playing at all.
Rayner, though, has fired back.
"They've got to understand this is just third or fourth game with a new group of players," he said.
"I think he's been bloody awesome.
"I don't know why he's been copping all this flak.
"For us boys, he's been awesome on field and awesome off field."
Now knowing first-hand the out-and-out competitor Hodge is, Rayner expected him to at his best in Sunday's QClash at the Gabba against the Gold Coast Suns.
It will be a first for both players.
"I think there is just a little bit of extra feeling. Not that we speak about, it, but you feel that there is," he said taking on the Queensland rival.
"The first thing we did after the Richmond game was say 'forget about that one', and hopefully redeem ourselves this week."