Hodges: My mate GI was the ultimate player
I STILL remember the first time I laid eyes on Greg Inglis - he was a tall, lanky outside back whose reputation preceded him.
We had all heard about this kid playing for Norths Devils in the Queensland Cup.
He had scored 12 tries in just five games and made everything on the rugby league field look easy.
We'd played him in a pre-season trial in 2005 and you could tell from the moment he touched the ball that he was going to be something special.
Fast-forward 15 years and Inglis is retiring from the game after a total of 263 premierships matches for the Melbourne Storm and South Sydney Rabbitohs, 32 State of Origin games for Queensland and 39 Tests for Australia.
When GI rang me over the weekend and said he had decided to retire, I told him he had nothing more to prove in the game - and I meant it.
Greg has won premierships with both the Storm and Rabbitohs, he was part of a Queensland State of Origin side that won eight straight series, he won World Cups and World Club challenges and broke countless records along the way.
GI was the ultimate team man who excelled in any position he was asked to play by his coach, whether that be at fullback, on the wing, in the centres or at five-eighth.
He was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal as a five-eighth for the Storm in the 2007 grand final and won a Golden Boot award as the best player in the world as a fullback in 2009.
Few players could do what Greg Inglis could on a rugby league field. He could beat an opponent through speed, agility and brute strength. His fend will go down as one of the best the game has seen.
I remember playing alongside GI in Origin. He was the ultimate competitor and teammate.
He was the man you'd turn to when you needed help to get out of your own end and he was the man you wanted to have the ball when the game was on the line.
GI owned the big moments like few players could.
He had an ability to not only put himself in the right place at the right time, he also to create something out of nothing.
Later in his career, GI became one of the great leaders in our game.
He was never the loudest guy in the sheds or on the field - he always let his actions do the talking - and there would be few men in the history of the game better equipped to lead a side into battle.
Greg has also become a leader and role model in the indigenous community.
In my role at the Broncos I visit a lot of schools in regional areas and speak to a lot of indigenous kids. When you ask them who is their favourite player, 90 per cent of them say Greg Inglis.
Off the field, GI is one of the best blokes you'd ever wish to meet. Nothing fazes him. He's a family man and a true friend, he's always there for those around him and I'm proud to call him a mate.
I have no doubt Greg will be a future NRL Hall of Fame inductee and I wouldn't be surprised to see him become an Immortal as well.
He may have retired from the NRL, but Greg Inglis is someone who'll never be lost to the game. His legacy will live on forever.