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5 days ago
Justin Hodges' manager said the Queensland centre would drop out of the National Rugby League if he failed to front up to Sydney Roosters training on Monday week.
"The options for him are to go back to training on Monday, February 9, or to reconsider if he wants to play rugby league," manager Jim Banaghan said on Wednesday.
Asked what the chances of the 21-year-old Hodges dropping out of the NRL, Banaghan said: "I'll tell you on February 9."
Hodges has not attended Roosters training since last Friday and has gone to ground in his hometown Brisbane with his family sorting out "personal issues".
It's been reported that Hodges is homesick following the break-up with his fiancee, model Lauren Lille, and has expressed an interest in rejoining the Brisbane Broncos.
The Roosters told Hodges, who has been granted two weeks personal leave, that they won't release the classy centre from his recently renewed contract, which expires at the end of 2007.
"He has skipped training and the club has reiterated to me not to even bother seeking a release because it will not be granted," said Banaghan, who added Brisbane can't negotiate with Hodges because of the NRL's anti-tampering laws.
"The Broncos can't talk to him. If the Broncos were talking to him they'd risk a $500,000 fine and they're too smart for that."
Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan said he was hopeful Hodges would return to club training on February 9 or earlier.
"If he doesn't, we'll address it when it happens," he added.
"We're just keeping out of his hair basically and letting him work through it."
Canavan played down Banaghan's comments that Hodges might quit the game.
"It's a bit premature to even think along those lines," said Canavan.
"It's what he loves doing and what he's bloody good at.
"I can't see that being the case once he gets through his own personal issues."
The Broncos have no room to accommodate Hodges under the $3.25 million salary cap so if he wants to continue playing at the top level, it appears his only option is to stick it out with the Roosters.
Canavan said the Roosters were concerned about Hodges missing pre-season training because he was still undergoing rehabilitation following a knee reconstruction last year.
Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett dumped Hodges from the Broncos first grade squad in 2001 when it emerged he had signed with the Roosters.