Thaiday, Hodges ruled out for Broncos
A three-day turnaround has proved too big a hurdle for Origin stars Sam Thaiday and Justin Hodges with both players ruled out of Brisbane's clash against the Raiders in Canberra on Saturday night.
Maroons teammates Corey Parker, Matt Gillett, Josh McGuire and Darius Boyd will all play against the ninth-placed Raiders still smarting from their last-gasp 41-34 loss to the Bulldogs on Sunday.
The exclusion of Hodges comes as no surprise as the injury-plagued 33-year-old is generally wrapped in cotton wool by Brisbane during the Origin period.
The crafty centre was one of Queensland's top performers during their 11-10 win over the Blues in Game One on Wednesday night making 18 carries for 195 metres with 12 tackles, four tackle busts and two offloads.
Hodges has only played 20 or more NRL games during a season on three occasions during his career with his best return for Brisbane coming during their 2006 premiership season where he played 20 matches.
The 239-game veteran has played eight out of a possible 10 matches for the Broncos so far in 2015.
Saturday's 5.30pm kick-off also comes a little too soon for back-row enforcer Sam Thaiday, who played 70 minutes on Wednesday night, making 103 metres and 38 tackles.
Broncos coach Wayne Bennett expected some late changes to his side as they deal with juggling six players backing up from Origin and a short turnaround from their 31-18 come-from-behind victory over Newcastle on Monday night.
"Sam [Thaiday] and Justin Hodges won't be playing," Bennett said.
"We expect that at this time of year. We've only just had the one training session [on Friday] morning really – we're experienced enough and hopefully we can handle it."
A favourable draw during the Origin period meant Monday's clash against the Knights was the only game this season to feature a 'baby Broncos' side minus the rep stars – although with the likes of Anthony Milford, Jack Reed, Adam Blair and Andrew McCullough available the Broncos weren't short on talent.
"They were great on Monday night in Newcastle but it's up to everyone to pull their weight a little bit and lift and do a bit better," Bennett said of his team.
"We came out of there with an excellent result and those [non-Origin] players did that so I'm confident enough we can do that tomorrow.
"It may be the first part of the rep period but it's important we play well – whether we win or not is not something we can control – if we play well we're giving ourselves a chance."
Broncos winger Jordan Kahu is expected to replace Hodges in the centres with Corey Oates shifting to his spot on the wing, while Blair will likely move from the bench into the front row to replace Thaiday.
One of Francis Molo, Daniel Vidot, Joe Ofahengaue or David Stagg will drop off an extended bench for Brisbane, who sit in second place on the ladder behind the Storm on for-and-against.
For the Raiders, Sam Williams is back in the No.7 jersey in place of Mitch Cornish, Jack Wighton returns for Jordan Rapana at fullback, while Kyle O'Donnell replaces Shannon Boyd on the bench.