Broncos v Sea Eagles 20th Season tribute match this Sunday at Suncorp
Justin Hodges will return to the rugby league field on Sunday in a match which he hopes will pay tribute to the historical dominance of the Ergon Energy Broncos.
The Broncos face Manly (the team they decimated 44-10 in their debut game back in 1988) at Suncorp Stadium in a major celebration of the club's 20-year anniversary.
Hodges, who has missed three games with a hamstring injury, said that it was up to the current playing staff to honour the teams of old.
"It is going to be one of those special days," said Hodges after training at full pace for the first time in a month. "It will be a great occasion for the older guys who built the club. I just hope we can continue that."
The majority of the first team from back in 1988 will attend the game and be introduced to the crowd on Sunday.
Hodges had all but begged coach Wayne Bennett to let him play in last week's 30-16 victory over Cronulla. But in hindsight he said he was happy to have waited the extra time, as he is jumping out of his skin to get back on the field. The enforced lay-off has taken any fatigue associated with the Origin series away.
"I really wanted to play against the Sharks but it is always good to go one more week with hamstrings," he said. "It was awesome today. It was my first full run and I didn't feel it at all. I feel really fresh. After Origin I was coming to training and not wanting to be there. Now I am running around like a little kid. I am fully fit, 100 per cent."
The good news for the Broncos is they have dropped just the one match since Hodges hurt himself. However they are locked in a tight finals race, sitting on 22 points, in equal fourth with the Warriors, Bulldogs, Tigers and Cowboys.
The Test centre said the victory over the Sharks had shown that the team is not dead yet.
"There is a lot of talk about us trying to win without Darren Lockyer," said Hodges. "But we have some great forwards who can lead us, and hopefully the backs can do it from there."
The Broncos had a special visitor today with Australian cricket batsman, Andrew Symonds, training with the team. Symonds said he was trying to do some extra fitness work before the national side goes to the upcoming 20-20 World Cup.
"It's good fun and a bit of cross training and it's good to see how skilful and strong these blokes are," said Symonds.
Wayne Bennett has made just one change to the Broncos' team that beat the Sharks, with Hodges going straight back to the centres for the injured David Stagg (ankle). An improvement in Ian Lacey's knee injury today has convinced Bennett to name him on the bench again, while Michael Ennis is again unavailable because of a shoulder injury.