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Gillett hails Queensland veterans Tate, Hodges
IAN MCCULLOUGH AND ADRIAN WARREN
Queensland utility Matt Gillett has paid tribute to Maroons stalwarts Brent Tate and Justin Hodges after the pair's stellar displays helped seal an eighth successive State of Origin series success.
Centre Hodges scored the decisive try that helped seal the 12-10 victory and Tate, playing on the wing, was named man of the match in a team display lauded as one of the Maroons finest ever.
The 31-year-olds made their Origin debuts in 2002 and have been blighted by injuries throughout their careers.
But 24-year-old Gillett, playing in only his second series, said he could only marvel at the defensive performances of Hodges and Tate who worked overtime to keep the largely dominant Blues at bay.
"Wins like that taste sweeter than when you get up by 20 points because you have to overcome the physical and mental battle," Gillett told AAP on Thursday.
"Watching from the sidelines in the first half and seeing the boys keep NSW out was inspiring.
"Hodgo prevented a certain try from (Ryan) Hoffman and Tatey is just Mr Consistent who always seems to be in the right place."
Gillett plays alongside Hodges at Brisbane and is well aware of the qualities he brings to the side.
And he believes the experience of knowing how to win is the biggest difference between NSW and Queensland.
"NSW are a great team and with 80,000 fans behind them it was always going to be hard to win down here," he said.
"But guys like Cam Smith, Johnathan Thurston, Hodgo and Sammy Thaiday have that big-game experience.
"The end of the first half we were really under the pump and to let in just one try was a huge boost going in at halftime.
"I feel very lucky to be a part of this great side."
Tate's career has looked over in 2011 when he underwent a third knee reconstruction having already come back from a serious neck injury in 2004.
The North Queensland star is enjoying a golden run in the twilight of his career and said he's every intention of continuing at the highest level next year.
"Maybe in the past I've been guilty of not enjoying them,(series wins) so I'm going to enjoy this one, I tell you," Tate said.
"While they're willing to give ne a jersey and I'm playing at a decent level it would be hard to say no to it. But I'll make that decision a long way down the track."
Former Maroons star Steve Walters labelled the win as one of the state's most memorable but stopped short of claiming Mal Meninga's side can make it 10-in-a-row.
"I think they'll sit back and enjoy this win and not worry too much about next year just yet," Walters told AAP.
"NSW showed they are a good side, but the difference is this Queensland side is a champion one.
"That was certainly one of their best wins."
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