Broncos confident in cover for Hodges
They dare not consider the possibility that their captain won't lead them out for the 2015 Telstra Premiership Grand Final but senior Broncos players say they have the cover should Justin Hodges' fairytale farewell turn into a horror story.
Hodges will appear before the judiciary on Tuesday night to defend the grade one dangerous throw charge levelled at him for a tackle on Roosters forward Aidan Guerra in last Friday night's Preliminary Final win at Suncorp Stadium.
If not for his 20 per cent loading an early guilty plea would have allowed the Broncos veteran to say goodbye on the game's grandest stage but those hopes now rest with the three-man judiciary panel who will hear his case at Rugby League Central.
Corey Parker and Sam Thaiday – Broncos captains themselves in recent years – both remain confident that Hodges will be found not guilty but believe they have the depth to cover in the worst case scenario.
And the Broncos' results in 2015 back them up.
Coach Wayne Bennett spoke at the start of the season of the need to have a squad to be capable of winning a premiership with the Broncos using 29 players in their 26 games to date.
Hodges has been absent for seven of those games and Brisbane have won every one of them but Thaiday and his teammates want their inspirational skipper to lead them out on Sunday evening.
"He'll be there for sure," was Thaiday's confident response.
"We've got no control over what the judiciary do and the rulings they make so we can only go down there with all the confidence in the world and fight it as hard as we can.
"I hope that he's the one leading us out there on the field."
In addition to his judiciary concerns Hodges is being troubled by a back injury that kept him to restricted duties at Monday's training session, a case of "Monday-itis" according to Parker.
While the clouds hanging over their captain make for good media fodder, Parker doesn't believe it will adversely affect the team's preparation for the all-Queensland decider against the Cowboys.
"It wouldn't be a big game without something like that," Parker said of the Hodges dramas.
"It's a dream for you guys, something to write about, but I'm sure common sense will prevail and they'll go down there and do the hearing as per normal. Fingers crossed he's OK.
"You can't replace a guy like 'Hodgo' if he's not to be there. What we will do is what we've done all year. If someone's not able to partake in the side someone will come in and do a job.
"That's happened all year and why we're in the position we are.
"During Origin we took a team to Newcastle and got a great win for us down there with some guys who did the job and if that is the case on Sunday, whoever gets that job I'm sure will do it."
Should Hodges be unable to take his place in the team the likely scenario would see winger Jordan Kahu shift into the right centre position and Lachlan Maranta move onto the right wing.