Retiring Brisbane captain Justin Hodges has backed himself to overcome injury and run out in Sunday’s NRL grand final against North Queensland in Sydney.
Hodges was quick to dismiss questions about his fitness despite failing to complete the warm-up at training in Sydney on Thursday due to a back complaint.
“It’s a bit sore, that’s all … it’ll be fine,” he said.
Hodges appeared annoyed when inundated early by fitness questions, at one stage adding: “no more back questions, please”.
He said nothing was going to stop him running out for the last game in his glittering 16-season career, especially after dramatically avoiding suspension on Tuesday night for a dangerous throw charge.
Asked if he had not defended his charge and accepted a career-ending one-match ban, Hodges said: “It would have haunted me the rest of my life.
“I was not going to miss a grand final.”
Brisbane also dismissed injury fears for forwards Alex Glenn and Mitchell Dodds after they too failed to front on Thursday for training.
Alarm bells appeared to be ringing for Hodges after he did not complete the warm-up due to his ongoing back complaint and walked away looking frustrated.
Brisbane hope Hodges will run out again for the team at training on Saturday, 24 hours ahead of their season decider against North Queensland at ANZ Stadium.
Hodges received a massage after feeling discomfort early into the warm-up under the watchful gaze of coach Wayne Bennett before retreating to the dressing sheds.
Dale Copley – the 18th man – ran in Hodges’ place at Thursday’s at training.
Hodges injured his back in their preliminary final rout of the Sydney Roosters, forcing him off the field in the first half to receive treatment.
He failed to complete training on Monday and missed Tuesday’s session so he could attend the NRL judiciary.
But Brisbane on Thursday were adamant Hodges would be given the chance to draw the curtain on his career in the grand final.
A Broncos spokesman said Glenn and Dodds were resting “general niggles” and would also be fit to play the decider.