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Griffin: Nervous Hodges ready for return

Coach Anthony Griffin is not expecting much from Justin Hodges on Friday night when he makes an earlier than expected return from injury. Copyright: Robb Cox/NRL Photos Credit: NRL Photos Copyright: NRL Photos
Anthony Griffin has backed Justin Hodges to overcome any pre-match butterflies on the eve of the Broncos Round 5 clash against Parramatta after his star centre admitted earlier this week that returning from his achilles injury was more of a mental battle than a physical one. 

Hodges is returning from a second achilles injury since 2010 and Griffin is convinced the 31-year-old veteran is fully prepared physically to take on the Eels, but remains wary of any mental demons he may face before running onto Suncorp Stadium for the first time since he sustained the injury in August of last year.

"He's been in full training for about four or five weeks now – privately we knew he was getting close," Griffin said.

"It's going to be hard for him in the next 24 hours. He's obviously had some big injures – both achilles – so that's going to be the biggest part of his preparation, getting through the next 24 hours.

"Once he gets on the field and gets a bit of contact that'll ease his nerves.

"In the end there's nothing else you can do other than get out and play. He's been cleared by the doctors and physios.

"He's been getting himself ready for a while now so he's just got to get out there and play."

Hodges slots straight into a Brisbane side who are in form and sitting second on the ladder, slightly easing the pressure to perform on the Test and Origin centre with Griffin revealing his role against the Eels will be a simple one.

"It's going to be a bit of a road back for him but the key for us tomorrow night is that we all perform around him," he said.

"He's just got to make his tackles and do his job. We're not expecting too much from him other than trying to get him through the game."

The return of Brisbane's co-captain provides a slight dilemma for the Broncos coach as he decides who will perform the on-field captaincy duties. Corey Parker hinted earlier in the week that he might toss a coin with Hodges to decide who leads the team out; however Griffin is happy with having Parker shoulder the extra responsibility for the time being.

"We've got our own belief in the way that (the co-captaincy) will work so there's not a great deal of focus on that at the moment," he said.

"He (Hodges) is coming back in and probably needs to concentrate on himself at the moment and get himself through.

"Corey's been doing a great job leading the team so I don't think that will change too much."
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