A rare Monday training run for Justin Hodges has the Broncos preparing to welcome back their star centre for Thursday night’s big NRL clash with South Sydney.
Hodges sweated it out for about 25 minutes by himself at Red Hill as he ran sprints, shuttles and also dummy-half drills in a bid to prove he’d quickly overcome his hamstring injury to play at ANZ Stadium.
The 31-year-old hardly missed a beat in his fitness test and gave the thumbs-up as he returned to the sheds before for his side’s closed training session.
“He’ll make the right decision for himself and the team,” said fellow co-captain Corey Parker.
But with just two field sessions to prepare for the in-form Rabbitohs, it was crucial Hodges, who normally rests up at the start of the week, took part on Monday.
Centre partner Dale Copley revealed Hodges, who had an injection last week as he missed Friday night’s 41-10 thumping of Canterbury, returned to training on Saturday.
Copley, behind only Jarryd Hayne with 16 tries this year, switched from the left side to the right with Hodges sidelined and would likely return to left centre again if the 13-Test veteran makes a timely return.
Copley has enjoyed a breakthrough season in Hodges’ absence on the right side, while also relishing the chance for three starts in his preferred position on the left after Jack Reed was dumped for a big night out last month.
The 23-year-old law student felt the move from the wing closer to the action and a boost in confidence had been significant factors in his improvement.
“I think I belong in the NRL, I feel I’ve been contributing to the team and feel comfortable where I am,” he said. “But I’m not getting carried away.
“I’ve still got a fair way to go I think.”
Copley highlighted the difficulty of Brisbane’s assignment against second-placed Souths, who played with a point to prove in their 23-4 defeat of pacesetters Manly.
It came five days after they were branded predictable by outgoing Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett.
“There’s no secret in that their strength is how big they are,” Copley said. “The problem is trying to stop those big blokes, and that’s the task we face.
“They were obviously pretty impressive; anytime you beat Manly you’ve done something right.”