Hodges cools injury concerns
Justin Hodges has dismissed any potential injury concerns surrounding his suspect Achilles after rolling his ankle in the Broncos' 22-8 victory over the Titans last night.
The star centre limped off the field inside the final 10 minutes after a decision was made to withdraw the 31-year-old early with the Broncos leading by eight points.
It took only a matter of minutes for the cautious decision to be vindicated as the home side managed to score another try through Jack Reed with five minutes remaining to put the game beyond doubt.
Prior to his early withdrawal, Hodges brought a dull and uninspiring game to life with a piece of individual brilliance in the 58th minute when he cleverly flicked the ball underneath his legs without looking and found Dale Copley patiently waiting on the outside, who planted the ball down unopposed for his second try. Hodges also set up Copley for his first try in the 31st minute after laying on a precise bullet-like pass to the 22-year-old.
"I noticed that [the Titans] were crowded around the play-the-ball and I looked at Dale and gave him a little [signal] and lucky he caught it," Hodges said.
"It was just spur-of-the-moment I guess. I knew if I faced [away from Copley] they wouldn’t put a defender there and hopefully a flick pass would work out."
The 18-game Origin veteran was quick to dismiss any injury talk and declared himself available for the Maroons if selected as is expected.
"It's not too bad – it's just a little bit sore. It's not so much the Achilles but rather the front bit [of the ankle] and it's a little bit tight through there," he said.
"We were up by eight so I just wanted to give it a bit of a rest.
"There's always a fright [when you limp off] especially when you're coming back from a major injury."
While the Broncos weren’t clearly at their best and still some way off a thorough 80-minute performance, Hodges was clearly relieved that his side snapped a two-game losing streak.
"Tonight wasn't about doing the flashy things – it was about getting the two points. In the last few weeks we've let ourselves down a bit in games," he said.
"It was a really good dominant performance. We knew they weren't at their strongest but they really came and gave it to us."
A gallant Titans outfit had to make do with a 15-man bench after game-ending injuries to William Zillman (concussion – 19th minute) and Aidan Sezer (pectoral) in the 30th minute which cruelled their chances.
From that point the Broncos were well positioned to win the battle of attrition against the Titans, managing to do so in the second half by piling on 18 unanswered points.
Broncos coach Anthony Griffin paid homage to the gutsy Titans, but showed little emotion when describing his sides' indifferent performance.
"It was ugly but in the end it was a win we needed," Griffin said.
"The opposition were very brave, obviously. But in the second half we did what we needed to do, got to 18-nil and we'll take that and move on."