Rested Hodges raring to go
Injury-prone centre Justin Hodges says he'll leave nothing in the tank when he turns out for the Broncos in Monday night's clash against the Raiders despite Origin II lurking around the corner.
The Maroons' centre was nursed through Origin training in the lead up to the series opener last Wednesday night and will have only eight days to recover once he returns from the nation's capital.
Hodges was intentionally sidelined for Brisbane's 36-10 thrashing of Manly last weekend as a precautionary measure in order to manage his workload. However, the 32-year-old insisted that he would've played against the Sea Eagles if necessary.
"The body is feeling good. I've had a bit of a rest – obviously I didn’t play last week and now I'm looking forward to Monday night," Hodges said.
"I thought I was right to play [against the Sea Eagles]. I wanted to play but just had a rest to get the body and the mind right for this weekend. It's a big game for us – we've got the bye the week after so it's an important game and I'm feeling fresh [for it]."
Prior to Game 1 at Suncorp Stadium, Hodges told NRL.com he was still undecided as to whether this year's series will be his last. After signing a contract extension in April to keep himself at Red Hill until the end of the 2016 season, the expectation is for Hodges to assist in delivering the Broncos another premiership within the next three seasons.
Notoriously hampered by injury throughout his 162-game Brisbane career, Hodges is a vital cog in the Brisbane machine, despite only being able to complete one season of 20 or more games for the club over 11 seasons.
Since returning from a three-season stint at the Roosters in 2005, the 2006 Premiership player has averaged only 17 games per season for the Broncos. Still determined to prove himself at the highest level despite the constant threat of reoccurring injury, the Broncos' co-captain says he won't be holding back against the 14th-placed Raiders with Origin II the next game on his agenda.
"You can't really think like that – if you get injured you get injured," he said.
"If you're going into a game thinking you're going to get injured or go into it half-hearted that's when you seem to get injured. When you're playing the sport we play there's always going to be injuries… Every time you get through a game it's a blessing."
As clichéd as it sounds, the experienced Hodges knows that you must perform at your best each week, regardless of whether or not you hold a mortgage over a representative jersey.
"For me it's easy – I just take each game as it comes and try to perform out there in every game," he said.
"It doesn’t matter if you're playing an Origin or playing in Canberra – every game is vital and as a footy player you've got to have your mind right each week."
As well as welcoming back an attacking weapon for the Canberra clash, Corey Parker fully understands why his co-captain needs to be put in cotton wool during the Origin period after he returned from a second Achilles operation in Round 5 against the Eels.
"He's had his three weeks off," Parker said with a wry grin.
"He'll be good [for the Broncos] – the thing with Origin is that it's a big ask coming off such a horrific injury to back up in a few days – so he's raring to go now."