Hodges shows good signs before NRL finals - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hodges shows good signs before NRL finals

Wayne Heming 28/07/2011 01:25:21 PM Comments (0)

The sight of Justin Hodges pumping kicks high into the air at Brisbane training this week was a sign the classy NRL centre feels his hamstring problems are behind him.

A fit and firing Hodges is just as essential to the Broncos' premiership hopes as Darren Lockyer, Peter Wallace or Sam Thaiday.

Following all his injury struggles, for Hodges to be hoisting bombs to teammates with his right boot and stretching out at pace at training is an encouraging sign so close to the finals.

However, Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin isn't prepared to declare the side's match-winning strike weapon out of the woods just yet, considering his history of hamstring breakdowns.

"He's a lot better than he was a month ago, he's a lot more confident," said a conservative Griffin.

"Obviously every game he plays helps his confidence and there's a little bit less risk with the injury with every minute he gets through."

Hodges suffered a low grade hamstring tear in his right leg playing against Penrith in May and suffered a twinge in his left hamstring during Queensland's build up to Origin III earlier this month.

Brisbane's medical staff have designed a special "Hodges Hammy" program to reduce the risk factor, which seems to have worked since he broke down early in the season.

"Our medical staff work with him every week to help him deal with things but he's going to be a week to week proposition.

"If you remember he came back in round three against the Titans and it (hamstring) again in round eight or nine against Penrith.

"He was six weeks up last time and he's four week up this time.

"What I'm saying is we're never out of the woods with him, we just have to continue to manage him.

"He is a lot more confident and he is moving a lot better so those are positives."

Griffin revealed he'd offered Darren Lockyer a day off on Monday after he left the field early in last Friday night's loss to Melbourne.

Lockyer took quite a pounding from the Storm and also felt a "twinge" in his hamstring.

"He's trained all week but he could have had the day off on Monday if he wanted to," said the coach.

"He didn't want to, he wanted to train which is a good sign for us."

Lockyer will edge closer to breaking the NRL's all-time record of 349 games shared by Terry Lamb and Steve Menzies against the Sharks which will be his 348th match.

He will equal the record against the Warriors in front of Brisbane fans at Suncorp Stadium the following week and then make history against the North Queensland Cowboys at Dairy Farmers Stadium in round 23.

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