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23 hours ago
Retired Brisbane Broncos captain Gorden Tallis predicts Justin Hodges' return to the Broncos next season will be a winning move for him and the club.
Hodges walked out on Broncos coach Wayne Bennett three years ago, leaving him angry over the circumstances of the shock exit.
The waters have been calmed and Tallis, who retired at the end of last season, believes being back with family, under Bennett's care and with a fresh approach will bring out the best in Hodges in 2005.
Critics have questioned Brisbane's wisdom in bringing Hodges back following a season when his attitude and form with the Roosters came under scrutiny.
"The people who are doubting Wayne's decision to bring Justin back are the same ones who blew up when the Roosters got under our guard and signed him," said Tallis.
"Justin is a wonderful player, he had knee surgery last year and probably didn't have as much pre-season training as he needed," Tallis said.
"By his standards, he didn't have a great season.
"But I just look back a bit earlier and I know what he's got inside of him and I know it can come back out.
Hodges injured his knee playing State of Origin for Queensland two seasons ago and struggled to regain his best form last season.
He was involved in a numbers of controversies, including a few sledging incidents.
"I'm positive he can turn it around," said Tallis, who left St George to play out his career for Brisbane to be closer to his family and friends.
"The environment here will help, he'll be around his family and friends and be able to relax so much more.
"When you come from north Queensland, a place like Sydney can get you down after a while."
Tallis said he would be very surprised if Hodges did not respond to his critics next season.
"I hope he does - if he is the player that I think he is, he will want to prove everyone wrong," said Tallis.
Brisbane bowed out of the NRL finals 12-0 to North Queensland, a loss Tallis has not forgotten.
"Last year we ran out of attack, we didn't score a try in our last game, we got held to zero," he said.
"We need blokes like Justin who scores tries and sets them up."
Hodges wants to play centre for Brisbane, which will not be easy given Kangaroo pair Shaun Berrigan and Brent Tate are the front-runners.
Teenager Karmichael Hunt has a mortgage on the fullback position, at least for another season or until he outgrows the job.
Tallis said just having Hodges at the club would make life tougher for the other Bronco players.
"Justin is going to put a lot of pressure on all the blokes that are there," said Tallis.
With Hodges playing on the wing, Brisbane will field a very youthful, but talented and dangerous backline next season of Brett Seymour, Darren Lockyer, Berrigan and Tate with Hunt able to attack from fullback.
"Our future looks pretty good," said Tallis.