Brisbane veteran Corey Parker admits the Broncos “can’t replace” what Justin Hodges offers if the retiring skipper cops an NRL grand final ban.
But Parker hopes “common sense prevails” and the veteran centre avoids suspension at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night, keeping alive hopes of a fairytale farewell.
Hodges, 33, was hit with a grade one dangerous throw on Aidan Guerra in Brisbane’s 31-12 preliminary final thumping of Sydney Roosters.
The Test and Queensland Origin centre’s glittering 16-season career will be over if he doesn’t beat the one-match ban.
Parker said losing Hodges would be a major blow to their hopes of winning their first premiership since 2006 – the six-time premiers’ longest drought.
“You can’t replace a guy like Hodgo,” Parker said.
“What we will do is what we have done all year.
“If someone is not able to play someone else will come in and do the job.
“It’s why we are in the position that we are.”
Parker said the team was not distracted by the Hodges judiciary drama.
“Hopefully common sense prevails when we go down there, fingers crossed he’s okay,” Parker said.
“It wouldn’t be a big game if there wasn’t something like this.”
Parker also hosed down the traditionally training shy Hodges leaving the paddock early on Monday.
“He’s got Mondayitis,” he said.
Brisbane prop Sam Thaiday was more confident that Hodges would beat the charge.
“He’ll be there for sure,” he said.
“All we can do is go down (to Sydney) with all the confidence in the world and I hope he is the one leading us out there on Sunday.”
If Hodges is rubbed out of the grand final against Johnathan Thurston’s North Queensland side, it would be a big boost to the Cowboys’ chances of claiming their inaugural NRL title.
But even Thurston wants to see his Maroons and Kangaroos teammate take the field at ANZ Stadium for the last game of the season on Sunday.
“It would be very disappointing for him to miss it, he is obviously a very great mate of mine,” Thurston said.
Guerra is expected to give evidence in favour of Hodges at the judiciary.
South Sydney hooker Issac Luke missed last year’s decider through a dangerous throw suspension.