'We couldn't look each other in the eye'
With the stress of Tuesday night's judiciary hearing behind him, Broncos captain Justin Hodges has spoken about the depth of the camaraderie within the 2015 Brisbane squad and how it has carried them all the way to the Telstra Premiership Grand Final.
In his exclusive captain's column for Big League's official Grand Final program, Hodges praises the bond the playing group has developed and how Brisbane teams in recent years have been unable to look each other in the eye.
It's an accountability that is typical of all successful teams and according to Hodges has been a source of great pride as captain of the club in his final year in the NRL.
"The bond that we have for each other is unbelievable. The friendships and how everyone cares for each other makes this the closest group I've ever been a part of," Hodges says in the Grand Final program.
"The boys just don't want to let each other down. The hardest thing when you play a team sport is knowing that when you have a bad game you've got to look your teammates in the eye. I think in the last couple of years we couldn't do that, but this year there has been a big emphasis on turning up and helping your mate.
"That's the best thing about this side, they don't want to let each other down and that's the biggest improvement I've seen compared to the last couple of years.
"The boys have always been a close group but this year the belief is there and I think everyone has taken it upon themselves to help others.
"So if someone makes a mistake, there is always someone to pick them back up and that has made a huge difference."
Playing in his 251st and final game in the NRL, Hodges said the prospect of missing the Grand Final due to a dangerous throw charge would have haunted him for the rest of his life but knows there are no guarantees of a fairytale farewell.
"Winning a grand final is the reason I've fought so hard to overcome all those injuries throughout my career, so this match means the world to me," Hodges said.
"You don't always get the fairytale you want but at least we are in a good position where I get to have my last game as a grand final.
"I couldn't ask for anything more than that."
The Grand Final Souvenir Program is available from newsagents and at ANZ Stadium on Sunday. Digital version also available through Zinio.