No Parker, Hodges for Broncos

Brisbane pair Corey Parker and Justin Hodges will not back up from State of Origin II when the Broncos face Melbourne on Sunday.

Coach Wayne Bennett confirmed on Saturday morning after the team’s final training run at Red Hill that Parker and Hodges will not be risked for the AAMI Park NRL clash.

Both were keen to play but Bennett said it was in Brisbane’s best interests that they take a rest.

Brisbane’s other Queensland Origin stars Sam Thaiday and Darius Boyd stayed in Melbourne after Wednesday night’s Origin II loss to NSW and will be right to take on the Storm.

“It was an option whether they came back or wanted to stay down there,” Bennett said.

“They wanted to stay so we’ve got one of our staff down there with them doing a bit of running and that with them.

“They’ve done enough training sessions here so I didn’t think it was that important for them to be back.”

The Storm are also feeling the harsh effects of the Origin period, with Billy Slater ruled out for the rest of the season due to pending shoulder surgery.

Bennett said Melbourne will suffer for his absence, but not as much as some might think.

“You always miss your key players,” he said.

“But at the end of the day they’ve got a great system that works. Players just fit into the system.

“The Storm have been the top side all through the last part of the decade and well into this decade.

“Nothing changes for us with them, that’s why it’s a tough game.”

Storm halfback Cooper Cronk is also currently sidelined with a knee injury and is in danger of missing Origin III on July 8.

A noted critic of the NRL’s scheduling around the Origin period, Bennett was reluctant to revisit the topic, which has again bubbled up following Canterbury coach Des Hasler’s post-game blow-up on the weekend.

Hasler said the NRL became “irrelevant” during Origin and slammed competition executives for their failure to find a solution.

“I’ve really stopped talking about it,” Bennett said.

“It’s 30 years old now plus, and nothing has changed.

“If you look at some of the injuries, they were prior to Origin – Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk.

“That is one of the big things I’ve kind of felt pretty strongly about.

“It’s such a great event now, Origin, people are paying a lot of money for tickets and you’ve got a guy like Cooper Cronk who didn’t get injured in Origin but had to come back and play club football.

“That’s the key, for Origin to be in a block somewhere if they want to make some change.”

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