Hunt out, Hodges in doubt for Brisbane - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hunt out, Hodges in doubt for Brisbane

By Wayne Heming 09/05/2009 02:42:18 PM Comments (0)

The loss of star fullback Karmichael Hunt and serious fitness concerns over Test centre Justin Hodges could force Brisbane coach Ivan Henjak into a major back-line reshuffle before Sunday's NRL clash with a desperate Manly at Suncorp Stadium.

Hunt is battling a deep thigh cork and may even be a week or two off playing in a race to be fit for Origin, which begins in Melbourne in three weeks.

Brisbane have four players - Hodges, skipper Darren Lockyer, winger Israel Folau and City Origin halfback Peter Wallace backing up from Friday-night representative duties.

Hodges made a successful two-try comeback for the Kangaroos in Australia's 38-10 Test win over New Zealand while Wallace all but confirmed his selection in NSW's Origin side with a man-of-the-match performance in Orange.

Henjak is banking on Lockyer, Wallace and Folau playing but concedes Hodges, who has a "tight" hamstring, is in doubt for the Mother's Day showdown.

The Sea Eagles are in a similar boat with six players backing up from representative duty.

Henjak trained without his four stars on Saturday and said he would finalise his side after the representative quartet had a light run on Sunday morning.

"Hodgo has a tight hammy, I guess you could say he is in a bit of doubt," said Henjak.

"Karmichael obviously didn't get through this morning either."

Eighteen year-old rookie Gerard Beale trained in Hunt's spot on Saturday and is poised to make his first grade debut.

Another youngster, Alex Glenn, called into Kiwi camp before the Test as their 18th man, trained in Hodges right centre spot with former Dragon Tom Hewitt, who hasn't made an appearance for Brisbane since joining them in 2008, running on the wing.

Henjak has a couple of options if Hodges pulls out.

He can play Folau in the centres or Glenn who has been up for nine games and may need a break to re-charge his batteries.

Henjak, concerned about putting too much stress on his 32-year-old skipper or Hodges with a big Origin campaign just around the corner.

"I don't want to put anyone at risk of injury, we're all worried about burnout.

"The demands on players now days is greater than ever.

"Guys that have been playing 13, 14 years in the NRL, it's a real risk for them and we're very conscious of that."

Manly, bottom of the ladder, don't have the luxury of being able to rest players and another loss on Sunday could just about kill off their season.

"They're not that far out of the eight, only a couple of wins," said Henjak.

"They're searching for confidence and some motivation to kick on and we certainly don't want to be the team that plays them back into form."

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