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Broncos will wear criticism: Griffin
Wayne Heming
17:52 AEST Tue Aug 7 2012

Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin says the six-time premiers will wear any criticism that comes their way but insists the Broncos are close to returning to the winners' circle.

The Broncos' NRL premiership claims look tenuous after three straight losses that have been compounded by more injuries to key players Corey Parker (shoulder) and Alex Glenn (hamstring).

They also have a tough three weeks ahead with games against Canterbury, Melbourne and Manly.

"That's fair enough (the criticism), we're fair game," admitted Griffin who faces the toughest assignment in the NRL this weekend playing a rampant Bulldogs who've won 10 straight while surging to the top of the ladder.

"They're the best team in the comp and they'll be a real good test for us but we're not far off."

Despite the club's mounting injury toll, Griffin has managed to name a quality squad capable of ending Canterbury's eye-catching streak.

Justin Hodges returns in the centres after missing several games with ankle and hamstring issues while Ben Te'o shifts into the back-row as Parker and Glenn face more time on the sidelines.

Griffin has also re-instated veteran Petero Civoniceva, who came off the bench against Canberra, to the front-row alongside Ben Hannant for what is expected to be an extremely physical battle.

While the Broncos will be under-strength against the powerful Dogs they will still field 10 players with representative experience.

Former captain Gorden Tallis believes Brisbane are playing like a tired team but he isn't prepared to write them off with four games remaining in the regular season.

"Teams can bounce back, like the Storm," Tallis told Fox Sports.

"I'm not prepared to write the Broncos off because when they get it right, they are a very good side."

Tallis said Griffin would welcome the tough run home against the Bulldogs, Melbourne and Manly before their last round clash at home with Penrith.

"They need a tough run home to start playing some good footy and turn things around," said Tallis, who played 169 games for Brisbane and starred in three of the club's six titles.

"If they get there (finals) I think they can still give it a shake."

Hodges still has to pass a final fitness test on Saturday but the Queensland and Australian star has already told Griffin he is "raring to go" against the Bulldogs.

His class and presence would be a real bonus given the club's injury situation and its lack of confidence.

Gold Coast meanwhile have confirmed the return of NSW State of Origin enforcer Greg Bird from injury while North Queensland coach Neil Henry has added forward Ricky Thorby and hooker Anthony Mitchell to an extended squad to take on the Warriors at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Saturday night.


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