BUSINESS AS USUAL: Justin Hodges offloads during a Queensland training session at Coolum yesterday.
BUSINESS AS USUAL: Justin Hodges offloads during a Queensland training session at Coolum yesterday. Warren Lynam

Maroons will do the job, Hodges says Braced for fireworks

QUEENSLAND star Justin Hodges has played in grand final-winning teams and Test matches and been an integral part of the Maroons dynasty.

But in terms of gravitas, Hodges says Wednesday's State of Origin decider at Sydney's ANZ Stadium is No.1.

And with tensions between the bitter rivals ratcheted up due to the ill will built up over the opening two games, he is bracing for "fireworks" early.

He said that not even the Blues losing notoriously combative captain Paul Gallen through injury would lessen the chance of a fight erupting, but added: "We're not going out there looking for a fight.

"This is the biggest game of our careers and we're going out there to win the game."

After Gallen punched and elbowed Queensland enforcer Nate Myles in the face in game one, the NRL vowed to sin-bin any player found guilty of fighting over the remainder of the series.

Four players - including Hodges - were sin-binned after a game-two melee.

The first two matches were essentially decided early, with New South Wales dominating game one from the outset and duly winning, before Queensland did the same in game two.

Hodges conceded that NSW's intensity blindsided the Maroons in game one.

"I'm pretty sure that the first 20 minutes (on Wednesday) is going to be pretty brutal," he said.

"Both sides are gonna come out and try and stamp their authority.

"So we're gonna expect a bit of fireworks, I guess."

Hodges described the loss of Gallen as a "massive" blow to the Blues.

WESTS Tigers prop Aaron Woods takes Gallen's place in the starting side, and Roosters back-rower Boyd Cordner replaces axed Bulldogs playmaker Josh Reynolds on the bench.

That means the Blues will field an all-forwards bench for the decider.

When asked about that, Hodges said: "They've got four forwards and are obviously gonna come through the middle.

"But we've got belief in ourselves and our front-rowers and all the guys in the middle that are gonna do their job."

Commenting on the Broncos after the side lost again on Friday night, Hodges said it was time for a reinvention.

"I think we're a little bit too happy to go sideways and side to side, and teams are reading that," he said.

"So I think we've got to mix things up and try and do things that we haven't done before."



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