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Hodges deals with WC heartache

The thought of never being able to play in a World Cup tears Justin Hodges up inside.
Hodges deals with WC heartache
by AAP

By Laine Clark

BRISBANE, Oct 19 AAP - The thought of never being able to play in a World Cup tears Justin Hodges up inside.

But one thing will make watching Australia run out without him almost bearable - fellow comeback king Brent Tate wearing his jersey.

Injury once again denied Hodges a final chance to tick the World Cup box on his glittering resume.

Recovering from the Achilles complaint that cut short his NRL season with Brisbane he says the thought of reclaiming his Test and Queensland jerseys next year is motivating him to return a better player.

And he is still entertaining a switch to five-eighth for the Broncos, insisting it may even extend his career.

But no amount of positive thinking will take away the heartache of missing the World Cup five years after injury also dashed his hopes.

"It's the only thing in my career I have not done," Hodges told AAP.

"It is a kick in the guts knowing someone is going to wear my jersey.

"But it is something that is going to drive me.

"I don't want to lose those jerseys due to injury. I want to leave them on my terms."

Arguably only one other player would be able to empathise and, coincidentally, he may run out as Hodges' replacement at the World Cup.

Five years ago Tate feared he would never play in another World Cup as he tried to comprehend the Kiwis' 34-20 boilover in the decider.

And three years ago, an inconsolable Tate believed his representative days were over when hit by the third serious knee injury of his career in the Four Nations final.

The North Queensland centre is now looking forward to dealing with some unfinished business and Hodges doesn't mind if he wears "his" Test jersey doing it.

"I am so happy to see him back in there. If I'd want anyone to get my jersey it would be him," Hodges said.

"We always roomed together at Origin.

"I know how hard he worked, how much pressure he put on himself to get back.

"He's inspirational."

But Hodges is doing his best to inspire the Broncos.

Nine weeks into his rehab, Hodges is so ahead of schedule he hopes to warm up for the opening Origin clash with a couple of NRL games in April.

"Having a goal is going to keep me motivated to come back and I am hoping to get back my Queensland and Australian jerseys," he said.

"If I had walked away from rep footy I don't think I would work as hard on getting the leg right."

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