Broncos happy with Hodges' progress - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Broncos happy with Hodges' progress

By Laine Clark 23/01/2009 07:56:15 PM Comments (0)

As the Broncos count down to Justin Hodges' return from a leave of absence, Brisbane boss Bruno Cullen says the NRL club is "very relaxed and happy" with the Test centre's progress.

Hodges will return to the Broncos on Monday after being granted a six-week sabbatical to deal with "private personal issues".

The personal leave came after Hodges began rehabilitation following a right shoulder reconstruction.

"His issues are personal and he has dealt with those," Cullen said at Brisbane on Friday.

"We have kept in constant, daily touch over the last six weeks.

"We are very relaxed and happy with where he is at the moment."

Asked if there were any doubt Hodges would return as scheduled, Cullen said: "When these things come up you don't just take things for granted.

"We had a troubled man on our hands and all of us went about the right way to deal with what he had in front of him.

"You never say never but he is back on Monday and we are looking forward to him being here."

Cullen said Hodges realised more challenges lay ahead for him upon his return.

"He's got football issues going forward, he has had a shoulder reconstruction and he hasn't been with the team for six weeks," he said.

"So he's got to get used to all that again.

"He's been looking after himself physically so hopefully he will be back ... as though he hasn't been away."

The time off has also cost Hodges precious time to work on a new centre partnership with prized off-season signing Israel Folau from Melbourne.

Meanwhile, a beaming Cullen announced on Friday that the NRL had finally rubber-stamped Mick De Vere's return for the Broncos.

A detailed case put together by Cullen ensured De Vere could play one more year for the Broncos - his 10th overall - while keeping his job as a coaching and development officer with Easts Carina rugby league club.

Cullen described it as a "unique" case - but it seems De Vere doesn't do orthodox.

A passionate letter to Bennett led to his first Broncos contract almost 13 years ago.

Nine seasons later De Vere left the Broncos as their highest pointscorer and with three premierships to his name.

After hanging up the boots in 2006 following two years in England, De Vere initially accepted a role on new Broncos coach Ivan Henjak's support staff for 2009.

But the hunger soon returned for De Vere - and the 32-year-old has made a habit of getting what he wants.

"There have been a few things that have been a bit unique," De Vere said of his career.

"I don't plan it that way, it's just how it works out.

"If I get a goal and want to achieve something, I will do whatever I can to get there - sometimes it is not by the book."

Cullen said of the talks: "It dragged on a little bit.

"We got frustrated and so did he (NRL salary cap auditor Ian Schubert) ... but we worked through things, no one shouted or screamed - in the end it was a good process."

De Vere - a veteran of four Tests and five State of Origin games for NSW - has been training with the Broncos since mid-November and admitted finally receiving the NRL green light gave him "peace of mind".

"I am happy to have one more year. To be a 10-year player for the Broncos would be something special," he said.

"They say you don't know what you've got until it's gone, and you hear that cliche `you are a long time retired', but you don't understand that until you do it.

"I understand now why people make comebacks."

He has not played in the NRL for more than four years - and last tasted the elite level in 2006.

But De Vere said a "realistic goal" would be playing at least 20 first grade matches this season - and even State of Origin.

News Limited reported on Friday that NSW coach Craig Bellamy would monitor De Vere's comeback.

"If I am playing well enough I think I can (play Origin). I wouldn't rule that out but it is not my main focus," De Vere said.

"The reason I am coming back is for the love of the game."

After the Broncos endured well documented alcohol-related controversies in 2008, De Vere's experience will no doubt also benefit his young teammates off the field.

"It's great for me seeing all their (young players') enthusiasm," De Vere said.

"That rubs off on me and hopefully I can help them with a bit more experience and professionalism."

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2022 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news