Hodges feeling great, ready for Warriors - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hodges feeling great, ready for Warriors

Wayne Heming 04/08/2011 04:23:17 PM Comments (0)

His coach almost had him in a wheelchair as a week to week proposition but injury-cursed Brisbane centre Justin Hodges says he hasn't felt as good in years.

The day before bursting back to something like his damaging best with a hat-trick of tries against Cronulla last weekend, rookie NRL coach Anthony Griffin was talking cautiously about his strike player, saying he was "not out of the woods" following his ongoing battles with hamstring issues.

This week, before tackling the physically-intimidating Warriors, Hodges had a message for his coach: "I'm back and I'm feeling great".

Hodges admits he'd been struggling since the third State of Origin game but was ready to take his form up another notch against his former Brisbane teammate Shaun Berrigan on Saturday.

The Warriors cross the Tasman riding a four-game winning streak and with fuzzy memories of their last visit to Suncorp Stadium - a resounding 48-16 smashing of the Broncos, who lost their way without skipper Darren Lockyer.

Griffin put his players on notice early in the week, declaring Warriors' magician Feleti Mateo - promoted into the starting side - the most dangerous attacking player in the game.

He also talked up new halves pairing James Maloney and Shaun Johnson as exciting ball runners, while reminding his players of the threat posed by "The Beast" Manu Vatuvei, who can bust sides open out wide or by charging through the middle of the ruck.

"This is probably the best 17 we can get on the field," said Hodges before Thursday's closed session at Suncorp Stadium.

"Everyone knows how powerful and strong they are in the forwards and they've got some great backs so everyone from 1-17 has to be on their game."

Hodges will have to pitch in and help winger Jharal Yow Yeh control Vatuvei, who faces his own character test at the hands of aerial specialists Lockyer and Peter Wallace who'll aim some bombs in his direction.

While Vatuvei can demolish defence, combining his size, pace and power, he's also regarded as risky under the high ball.

"Another match up on The Beast so the shoulders are going to be a bit sore on Sunday morning," smiled Hodges.

"He's one of their danger men, very strong, very fast so it's up to me and Jharal to get up on him quickly and shut him down before he works up some speed.

"He doesn't seem as comfortable under the high ball as he is running it so hopefully Wal and Locky can get the ball up high and Jharal can grab a few tries for us."

The lines of communication between Hodges and Berrigan have been down this week.

"He's normally texting me all week but I haven't heard from him this week," Hodges said.

"I know he'll be pumped to be coming back home.

"We're pretty good friends but, come Saturday night, he'll be the enemy out there trying to do his best."

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