Hodges desperate to boost Origin hopes - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hodges desperate to boost Origin hopes

Jim Morton 16/06/2011 04:14:07 PM Comments (0)

Justin Hodges has backed himself to come to Queensland's State of Origin aid despite struggling to make his long-awaited Broncos return on Friday night.

Hodges is desperate to make his comeback from a torn hamstring in the NRL clash with premiers St George Illawarra and put up his hand for a Queensland recall for the July 6 Origin series decider.

But Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin is reluctant to risk the game-breaking centre in a Suncorp Stadium blockbuster which has already been hard-hit by Origin injuries.

The Dragons have been robbed of NSW second-rowers Beau Scott (ankle) and Ben Creagh (knee) while the Broncos have Queensland lock Corey Parker in serious doubt with a groin strain.

But for the first time this season Brisbane are set to allow captain Darren Lockyer and Sam Thaiday to back up, along with fellow Maroons Ben Hannant and Jharal Yow Yeh.

Griffin rated Hodges a 50-50 chance of also lining up against the Dragons, but will wait until Friday morning to assess the injury-plagued star following an upgraded week of training.

Five weeks after tearing his right hamstring a second time, Hodges himself admitted there was a risk of re-injury but was willing to roll the dice.

If he is scratched, the 29-year-old will have next week's trip to Perth to play South Sydney as his only chance to impress before Queensland selectors name their team for Origin III, which is skipper Lockyer's last Origin game before retirement.

"Hopefully I get back to playing either tomorrow or the week after and hopefully play a big game," he said. "I'd love to be there in game three, it's a massive occasion.

"It's all set up for a nice fairytale hopefully for Locky's sake.

"If I do get selected there's no chance of me letting anyone down."

Melbourne centre Dane Nielsen looms as the fall guy if Hodges works his way back into Queensland contention.

Even with sparse match time, Hodges was adamant he would rise to the challenge.

"Those big games always make you play better and that's something I always love," he said. "And there's no better place to challenge yourself than Origin, and especially game three at home."

Griffin, though, has his doubts due to the brutal nature of the code's showpiece.

"It's full-on and it's probably a game-and-a-half of NRL - the fatigue factor - and Justin has played five games this year," he said.

"He hasn't played for five weeks and if he doesn't play tomorrow's game he would have played just one game in seven weeks before Origin so it would be a risk."

Lockyer reported he felt fine on Thursday after Queensland's 18-8 loss at ANZ Stadium and was confident of lining up for a second big match in three nights.

"The way I'm feeling, I'm definitely a chance of backing up against the Dragons," he said.

While Scott and Creagh, who also suffered a perforated eardrum as well as a knee strain, will be missing, the Broncos are on guard for the Dragons to produce their best, especially with radar-boot Jamie Soward starring at Origin level.

"He's got a lot of confidence now, he's running the football as well," Griffin said. "How we defend him and his kicking game will be a real important part of the game for us."

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