Maroons sweat on Hodges' recovery
News source: Sunshine Coast Daily, Friday 9 June 2006
Tough test on Coast for centre
QUEENSLAND is praying inform centre Justin Hodges will come through today's team training session unscathed and confirm his participation for Wednesday night's State of Origin II .
Hodges, who suffered a four-centimetre hamstring tear in last month's opening Origin game in Sydney, got through most of yesterday's training run at Langland's Park before retiring early to have his leg injury iced up.
If Hodges can run anywhere near full pace at today's training at Coolum on the Sunshine Coast , he'll get the Origin green light.
But if he feels any hint of a twinge he says he'll pull the pin to give his replacement, likely to be Penrith's Rhys Wesser, ample time to prepare properly.
“I've taken it on my own bat. If I feel the slightest twinge I'll do the right thing by my teammates,” declared Hodges , Queensland 's best player in the 17-16 loss.
“Tomorrow will be full-on running but right now I feel confident I'll be able to play.”
With NSW on the verge of a fourth successive series win, Hodges has to be honest with himself about his injury and not take a huge gamble which could backfire on the team.
“Hopefully I don't have to make that decision but if I do it will be very disappointing,” said the Broncos star.
“I really had my mind set on playing this game, especially after what happened in game one in Sydney .
“But I'll be true to my teammates and Mal (Meninga) who has given me a chance to prove my fitness.
“If I do feel something, I'll do the right thing and step down straight away.”
After already losing teenage star Greg Inglis (back) and hit man specialist Tonie Carroll (knee), the Maroons could ill afford to lose the skills of Hodges who is in career-best form.
Origin hasn't been kind to Hodges with two in-goal errors marring his debut before suffering a season-ending knee injury in his next appearance.
He managed to put those memories behind him with a fine game in Sydney last month and dearly wants to back that up with an even better performance next week if his injury comes through today's searching test.
Second-rower Nate Mules was forced to watch training from the stands after coming down with the ‘flu but has time on his side to regain full fitness. The Maroons shift camp to the Hyatt Regency resort at Coolum on the Sunshine Coast today with a visit to Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo tourist attraction on the day's program.