Justin Hodges may loom as the key to Brisbane’s unlikely NRL finals campaign but the Broncos veteran admits he will have to reassess his fullback role.
He’s been a revelation at fullback but Justin Hodges admits he’s had to reassess his role ahead of Brisbane’s NRL elimination final against North Queensland in Townsville on Saturday night.
The Test and Queensland centre looms as Brisbane’s X-factor in their unlikely finals run after making a difference in the No.1 jersey in the absence of Josh Hoffman (ankle).
Fellow Broncos co-captain Corey Parker and Brisbane great Willie Carne both agree that Hodges holds the key to the NRL club launching a premiership tilt.
And unfortunately Hodges has felt that too.
The veteran admitted on Thursday he was guilty of trying too hard to spark the side in their last round 22-12 loss to the Storm in Melbourne and he planned to reassess his approach ahead of the sudden-death clash in Townsville.
Hodges agreed he overplayed his hand as Brisbane were made to pay for missed chances in Melbourne before sweating on other results to scrape into eighth spot.
“Definitely. I tried to do too much I guess,” Hodges said.
“And it’s something that I spoke to the coach about.
“It’s getting used to the fullback role again, and what it allows me to do.
“This week I will be sniffing around the ruck and hopefully there will be some opportunities out wide as well.”
There was speculation Hodges would slot back into the centres against North Queensland to replace the injured Jack Reed (shoulder).
But that was believed to be a ploy to avoid the player initially named as Reed’s centre replacement – teenage finals debutant Corey Oates – from being exploited by Cowboys playmaker Johnathan Thurston.
There were also reports that Jordan Kahu could replace Oates with Hodges remaining at fullback.
But Parker was adamant Hodges wearing the No.1 jersey was the key to Brisbane keeping alive the unlikely dream of sending out coach Anthony Griffin a title winner.
“I have known him since he was 12. I know the more times he can get his hands on the ball the better,” Parker said.
“Since he has been at fullback he has added another dimension to his attack – and we will need another big game from him on Saturday night.”
Carne may disagree with Hodges playing at fullback but claimed the veteran could spark Brisbane from any position.
“I think he is playing out of position but he is so good he can do it with his eyes shut,” he told AAP.
“With him playing it is like under eights footy. If you have your best player on the paddock the rest just looks after itself.”