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Broncos playing down Hodges injury
By Wayne Heming
11:25 AEST Sat Jun 23 2012

Brisbane did their best to allay fears classy centre Justin Hodges could be in trouble with a rib injury 12 days out from the biggest State of Origin game since 1980.

With the prospect of having to replace glamour fullback Billy Slater (knee), losing Hodges would be a huge hit for the Maroons.

The 30 year-old repeatedly clutched at his right side during the second half of Brisbane's 26-12 win over South Sydney on Friday night, giving veteran prop Petero Civoniceva a win in his 300th NRL appearance.

Despite the discomfort Hodges still managed to make an impressive 174 metres and bust seven tackles.

Queensland coach Mal Meninga, who watched the game, will meet with selectors Des Morris, Gene Miles and Allan Smith over the weekend to review their options and settle on a 17-man squad for the decider.

Broncos coach Anthony Griffin revealed after the win that Hodges, who has a long and worrying history of missing at least one Origin game a series, had aggravated an old rib injury.

Griffin was confident it wouldn't jeopardise his Origin III bid.

"Justin's been carrying it (rib injury) for a while and every now and then he gets a bump on it," said Griffin.

"He didn't seem too worried about it. If he gets twisted the wrong way it flares up on him."

Griffin also confirmed there were no fresh injury concerns for Origin trio of Sam Thaiday, Matt Gillett, and Corey Parker.

"Sammy got through great with his shoulder, Matt Gillett is good and Cozza got through fine apart from the cut on his nose."

Queensland selectors will be hoping Griffin's mail on Hodges is correct.

If they have to move Greg Inglis to fullback for Slater and Hodges is ruled out, it would mean finding two new centres which would not be ideal for a series decider.

Brisbane's senior players Civoniceva (cut nose), Corey Parker (nose), Sam Thaiday (sore shoulder) and Hodges (ribs) were among a host of casualties from Friday night's tough battle with the Bunnies.

"Unfortunately the modelling contract is out the window .... I might model some Bullbars," joked Civoniceva after reopening a cut on the bridge of his nose.

"I'm alright, I'm a bit more concerned about Corey Parker, his nose is a bit busted.

"He's a good looking bloke and he's in there (dressing room) in tears."

Battered young Broncos fullback Josh Hoffman received high praise from Griffin after being smashed all night, including twice by the full force of Inglis, who left him dazed.

"He's in great form and he really puts his body on the line," said Griffin.

"He's getting a lot more handles in different parts of the field which is important for him and for us as a team.

"He looked like he was going to score a few tries."

The Kiwi international saw the funny side after his hammering.

"He's a big bloke. What can I say?," offered Hoffman.

"It was just like being hit by a big refrigerator."


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