Nothing, it seems, will stop Justin Hodges playing in Sunday’s NRL grand final.
Not the drama of dodging a bullet at the judiciary this week, and certainly not a dodgy back that has limited his preparation.
The retiring Broncos’ skipper cut a determined figure on Thursday just hours after pulling out of Brisbane’s training warm-up in Sydney.
Hodges, 33, even became impatient with journalists when pressed on the back injury that appears to require constant treatment ahead of his career swansong.
“No more back questions, thanks,” Hodges said at one stage.
Hodges said nothing was going to stop him playing after escaping a potentially career-ending dangerous throw charge on Tuesday night.
He sounded more concerned with escaping the judiciary’s clutches this week than proving his grand final fitness.
“To get knocked out in the last game (ahead of a grand final), it’s something that would have haunted me for the rest of my life, for sure,” he said of the potential judiciary ban.
“It’s been a tough couple of days but I have put that behind me.
“The boys got in (Sydney) yesterday so it was good to get around them and have a bit of fun.
“I just have to get my head clear from what happened the last couple of days and think about the game on Sunday.”
Hodges has not been the same since being forced off the field for treatment on his back in Brisbane’s 31-12 preliminary final win last week over the Sydney Roosters.
“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,” coach Wayne Bennett said.
“It was pretty important from our preparation point of view that he was found not guilty because of what he brings to the team.”
Hodges added: “The back’s going to be fine, it’s just a bit sore that’s all but it’s a grand final – you’d do anything to be there.”
Brisbane also dismissed injury fears for forwards Alex Glenn and Mitchell Dodds after they failed to front on Thursday for training.
Hodges did not complete training on Monday and missed Tuesday’s session so he could attend the NRL judiciary.
For the record, Dale Copley – the 18th man – ran in Hodges’ place at Thursday’s training in Brisbane.