Brisbane have downplayed their desire to send out retiring skipper Justin Hodges a winner as chief motivation for the NRL grand final.
Despite an ongoing back injury, Hodges will play his final match in a celebrated 16-year career against North Queensland in Sunday’s title decider at ANZ Stadium.
The door was left open for a fairy tale end to his 250 match NRL career after Hodges beat a dangerous throw charge at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday.
But good friend and long time representative teammate Sam Thaiday said Sunday isn’t just about Hodges.
“Justin will tell you, it’s not about Justin, this whole year has been about the team, if we all do our job as a team we can do it (win the premiership),” Thaiday said.
“I would like to see all of our boys go out a winner on Sunday.”
Hodges said he would never have been able to recover from the disappointment of missing the grand final if he was rubbed out.
“If I was suspended it would have haunted me for the rest of my life,” he said.
The 2002 and 2006 grand final winner said he was taking things easy in the lead-up to Sunday.
“I am not thinking about that (the game) at the moment, there is still a long way to go.
“I just have to get my head clear from what happened the last couple of days and then think about the game on Sunday.”
Broncos coach Wayne Bennett said if Hodges had been suspended it would have been a huge distraction to his side’s preparation.
“It would have had a huge impact on us if he wasn’t (playing) because you guys (the media) would have carried on about it all week and that is a terrible distraction,” Bennett said.
“You just want to get to this point with as minimum of distractions as you can possibly have.
“It only lasted two days, it was over on Tuesday night and then we moved on. It was pretty important from our preparation point of view that he was found not guilty besides what he brings to the team.”