Justin Hodges close to a return

INJURED co-captain Justin Hodges is going all out in his bid to play in Brisbane's season-defining showdown against South Sydney, pushing his dicey hamstring earlier than expected to be part of Thursday night's blockbuster.

Hodges, who missed the Broncos' 41-10 win over the Bulldogs because of his latest hamstring episode, ran privately at the weekend and on Monday upped the stakes with some solo sprinting and swerving at Brisbane's Red Hill headquarters.

His desire to be part of such a big game was obvious to all onlookers.

While he still has to get through Wednesday morning's final sessions, he appeared to run unhampered at good pace in a straight line before finishing the 30-minute session with swerving runs.

He indicated with a nod, as he left the field and headed into the dressing sheds, to watching journalists that his fitness test was all good.

If he plays, the in-form Dale Copley will slot into left centre, with Jack Reed most likely moving to the bench

If that happens, Lachlan Maranta appears to be the unlucky loser from the huge win over the Bulldogs last weekend.

Copley, who continues to grow in confidence and attract accolades from commentators, has taken his game up another notch this season to the point where he finally feels he is a part of the competition.

"I probably feel now I belong in the NRL and that I can contribute to the team and I feel comfortable where I am," he said.

"I'm not getting ahead of myself and I know I still have a long way to go and a lot of work still to do."

Copley said Brisbane was not getting carried by its best win of the season, especially with Thursday's night's opponents having beaten premiership leaders Manly by 20 points on the same night they trounced the Bulldogs.

"I think we're sitting in 10th position now, so there's no reason to be arrogant or get ahead of ourselves," he said.

"We've still got some qualities we have to play so we're certainly not in a position to get carried away with ourselves that's for sure."

Copley, who caught the last 20 minutes of Souths impressive win over Manly, may have to mark up on electrifying Rabbit Dylan Walker who has also been in eye-catching form.

"We've got a massive task on Thursday with the Burgess boys (Sam, who ran 200 metres and made 31 tackles and younger sibling George) and their fullback (Greg Inglis) is pretty good too," he said.

"There's a big challenge for our middle forwards but they were pretty good last Friday night and this week is a similar task in size and power and no doubt they will be up for it."

Topics:  brisbane broncos footy tipping justin hodges nrl south sydney rabbitohs

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