Mat Rogers leads the way at training after declaring himself ready for tonight?s showdown with Brisbane.
Mat Rogers leads the way at training after declaring himself ready for tonight?s showdown with Brisbane.

Justin time

By WAYNE HEMING

DUAL international Mat Rogers is pinning his hopes on his big-match record to earn him a last-minute call-up for the Gold Coast's NRL showdown with Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium tonight.

Rogers, who has a bulging disc in his neck which will eventually require surgery, declared himself fit and pain-free after training strongly with the side at Runaway Bay yesterday.

It has left rookie Gold Coast coach John Cartwright facing a difficult decision with either Rogers or the in-form Josh Graham to partner Brett Delaney in the centres.

But Rogers, a marquee signing from rugby union, is desperately keen to go up against Brisbane's form centre Justin Hodges, a certainty to be in Australia's Test squad named on Sunday night to play the Kiwis next Friday in Brisbane.

"I'm keen to play but it's up to the coach," Rogers said.

"The ball is in the coach's court and hopefully tomorrow he's got two fit players and he can make his decision."

It would seem odd for Cartwright to leave a player with Roger's vast experience out of a side for such a massive match that will have a State of Origin atmosphere about it with a crowd of 45,000 tipped to attend the clash.

"Everybody enjoys the big games, they're not that hard to get up for," Rogers said.

"It'll be a tremendous atmosphere and I'd love to be out there. There's no secret about that.

"Hodgo (Justin Hodges) has been playing really well and I'd love to get an opportunity to play against him, but unfortunately it's not up to me."

Rogers said his neck injury was not in the same league as the one which this week forced champion Newcastle halfback Andrew Johns into retirement.

"It's nothing like John's injury. It's a minor thing but it does require a bit of management," the former Kangaroo and Wallaby star said.

Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett identified Gold Coast trio Scott Prince, Luke Bailey and Preston Campbell as strike players but wouldn't buy into the Titans claiming home privileges forcing the Broncos to bus it to the game and use the visitors' dressing sheds.

"I'm happy we're playing away from home, we haven't had a lot of luck at home this year," Bennett said.

"It'll be nice playing away and having the crowd cheering you."

Broncos hooker Shaun Berrigan (hip) took little part in training yesterday, leaving the session early but he was expected to play.



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