Missing a grand final ‘never leaves you’

Cameron Smith, the last captain to miss his side’s NRL grand final appearance through suspension, admits he is still haunted by the experience.

Smith missed Melbourne’s 2008 decider against Manly after being banned for a tackle gone wrong – a similar fate Brisbane’s Justin Hodges could face if he doesn’t beat his dangerous throw charge at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night.

The Queensland and Australian skipper missed the Storm’s 40-0 thumping at the hands of the Sea Eagles after being outed for two matches for a ‘grapple tackle’.

Hodges faces a one-match ban, and the end of his NRL career following his decision to retire, if he is found guilty of a lifting tackle on Sydney Roosters back-rower Aidan Guerra in the Broncos big win over the Tricolours in last Friday’s preliminary final.

Smith said not playing in that grand final is something that has stayed with him.

“It is something that is always going to be there, you can’t forget about the year you missed playing in a grand final,” Smith said.

But Hodges’ Broncos teammates, including Corey Parker, are confident that is something the representative star won’t have to worry about.

“Hopefully common sense prevails when we go down there, fingers crossed he’s OK,” Parker said.

“It wouldn’t be a big game if there wasn’t something like this.”

Hooker Andrew McCullough said Hodges was dealing well with all the drama.

“He’s upbeat, he has to be, he is the captain. Hodgo has turned up at training today, it’s out of our hands now,” he said.

Lachlan Maranta will likely come into the Brisbane side if Hodges is rubbed out.

South Sydney hooker Issac Luke missed last year’s grand final after being suspended for a dangerous throw.

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