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Griffin finds men for a crisis

Tony Webeck, Chief Queensland Correspondent NRL.com Fri, Jan 10, 2014 - 5:30 PM

Corey Parker and Justin Hodges will act as co-captains for the Brisbane Broncos in 2014. Copyright: Tristan Croll - Broncos Media

Their individual responses to adversity makes Broncos coach Anthony Griffin convinced that newly unveiled co-captains Corey Parker and Justin Hodges are the men to lead Brisbane back to the top of the rugby league mountain.

On a history-making day in Brisbane, Hodges and Parker were named as the club's first co-captains with Griffin and outgoing captain Sam Thaiday coming to an agreement during the week that Thaiday stepping down as skipper was in the best interests of the team.

Coming off the club's worst win-loss season in its history, drastic change has been implemented in a number of key areas including an extensive recruitment campaign, a new strength and conditioning coach in Alex Corvo and now shared captaincy duties between Parker and Hodges.

Born just 20 days apart almost 32 years ago, Parker and Hodges have been teammates since they were 12 years old and after given the way they have individually handled disappointment in recent years, Griffin has faith that they set an example that if followed, will welcome a new era of success at the Broncos.

"I know how disappointed Corey was in 2011, my first year here," Griffin said of overlooking Parker in favour of Thaiday for the captaincy three years ago. "I selected Sam ahead of Corey and to his credit, he wouldn't be where he is now only for the character he showed in the way he accepted that.

"He kept moving forward in his career and in the end that's put him back in this position now, which is a great show of strength of character from him.

"With 'Hodgo', he's just evolved through adversity more than anything. I think the year he missed out because of his achilles [in 2010] really steeled him as a person and he's a great contributor to the team and he's put himself in that position as well.

"They've both evolved into the leaders they are at the moment and I'm really comfortable that they're both the right people to go forward.

"On reflection and thinking what was best, my gut feel was that I couldn't separate them. They've both got tremendous strengths, I've worked closely with them over the last few years and they have both grown over the last three or four years as players and people."

Since being overlooked by Griffin in 2011 Parker has played eight Origin matches and all six Tests of his career and admitted that not being chosen to captain the Broncos provided the motivation to play the best football of his life.

"In life at times you get thrown some curve balls and some decisions don't go the way you want," Parker said. "You've got two ways you can deal with it: You can kick cans or you can get on with it. I've always been one to get on with it and I used it as a bit of motivation I guess at the time.

"It was going to benefit me in no way by kicking cans so I had to get on with it and I feel that I've done that.

"There are still a lot of things I want to do in the game and taking on this role with 'Hodgo' was certainly part of my plans. I can't stress enough the excitement that's within the both of us to start looking forward and to progress now."

Hodges hinted that he still hopes to be fit to run out alongside his great mate as co-captains in Round 1 against the Bulldogs and begin the process of restoring the six-time premiership-winning club to its former glories.

"It's going really well, I'm trying to get on the track as soon as possible," Hodges said of the achilles injury suffered last August that initially was to sideline him for up to 10 months . 

"For me, hopefully it will be closer to Round 1 than anything, that's something that I'm pushing for. The leg's going better than expected so I'm really looking forward to that.

"This club is a club that we love dearly and our main focus now moving forward is to bring this great club back to where it should be and that's up to the top.

"We've had a couple of years where we haven't been successful and our time's right, for me and Corey to step up and hopefully bring our great club back to where it should be.

"We got passed the reins years and years ago when the club was up the top and, as everyone knows, me and 'Cozzie' (Parker) aren't getting any younger, but we've still got a lot of good years left in us.

"My main thing before I hang my boots up is that I want to see this club back to the top."