Queensland centre Justin Hodges won’t have to worry about captaincy duties as he returns for the Broncos against Parramatta on Friday night.
Justin Hodges won’t be burdened with his co-captaincy duties in his delayed NRL season start for Brisbane on Friday night.
Coach Anthony Griffin declared Hodges would definitely make his return from a snapped achilles tendon against Parramatta at Suncorp Stadium after he completed training on Thursday.
However, Griffin has instructed the Test and Queensland centre to focus purely on his own positional role.
Hodges hasn’t played since being named the Broncos co-captain with Corey Parker when Sam Thaiday was stripped of the leadership in the pre-season.
Griffin said little attention had been given to dividing up the on-field captaincy duties as he eased the 31-year-old back into NRL action.
“There’s not a great deal of focus on that at the moment,” the coach said. “He just needs to concentrate on himself at the moment, and get himself through.
“Corey has been doing a great job leading the team so I don’t think that will change too much.
“The thing for us tomorrow night is that we all perform around (Hodges) and he’s just got to make his tackles and do his job.”
Hodges snapped his achilles tendon against St George Illawarra last August – the second time he’s suffered the injury.
While his return comes six weeks earlier than expected, Griffin said his battle was now more mental than physical.
“It’s going to be hard for him in the next 24 hours. He’s had some big injuries – both achilles,” he said.
“Hopefully once he gets on the field and feel the contact that will ease his nerves.”
Queensland front-rower Ben Hannant is set to make his return from a hamstring injury against an Eels side that looks much improved from the 2012 and 2013 wooden-spooners.
Griffin is extremely wary of a dangerous backline that contains Jarryd Hayne, a revitalised Chris Sandow, Will Hopoate and demolition man Sam Radradra on the left wing.
“They should have beaten Manly at Brookvale. Not many people do that and I thought they were unlucky that day. And last week they put the Panthers away pretty easy,” he said.
“Jarryd Hayne on his day is the best player in the game, so we have to be at our best defensively.”
Part of Parramatta’s improvement has been the addition of former Broncos utility Corey Norman at five-eighth.
Norman had been groomed to be Brisbane’s playmaker before leaving Red Hill last year.
Although disappointed at the painful defection, Griffin denied there would be a special reception for the 22-year-old.
“It was hard to see him go but that’s 12 months ago now,” he said.