Having already beaten a judiciary charge, Justin Hodges isn’t going to let a back injury ruin his shot at ending one of rugby league’s great careers on the ultimate high.
The Brisbane skipper will go into Sunday’s NRL grand final against North Queensland carrying a back problem he picked up in the preliminary final win over the Roosters.
But the 33-year-old centre is confident it won’t prevent him playing his part in his last match before heading into retirement.
“The back is going to be nothing compared to what I went through (worrying about the judiciary),” said Hodges.
He endured four fretful days before an NRL judiciary hearing on Tuesday night cleared him of the dangerous throw charge that threatened to cost him his chance of a fairytale exit.
Adding a third NRL premiership to his 2002 triumph with Sydney Roosters and 2006 title with the Broncos would be a fitting way for teammates to send off Hodges, who has played 250 NRL games in an illustrious 16-year career.
A key figure in the Queensland State of Origin side that won nine of the last 10 interstate series, the hard-running centre known for his quick wit on the field has played 24 times for his beloved Maroons and 13 Tests for Australia.
“It’s a big relief I get to finish with one more game,” Hodges said.
“I get the chance (at a fairytale finish) but we are up against a great side that is led by one of the best players of all time (in Johnathan Thurston).
“So we have a big challenge ahead of us.”
JUSTIN HODGES CAREER:
Born: May 25, 1982 (Cairns, Gold)
NRL Debut: Brisbane B Canberra at Canberra, Round 14, 2000
NRL games: 250
NRL clubs: Brisbane (2000-01); Sydney Roosters (2002-04); Brisbane (2005-present)
NRL career points: 398 (99 tries, one goal)
Tests: 13 (2006-13)
State of Origins: 24 (2002-15)
Premierships: 2002 (Sydney Roosters), 2006 (Broncos)