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St George Illawarra have suffered a massive blow on the eve of their NRL clash against North Queensland with five-eighth and skipper Ben Hornby ruled out due to injury.
Hornby damaged a quadricep muscle at training yesterday and was officially ruled out of the WIN Stadium clash by coach Nathan Brown this morning. Brown said he had yet to make a decision on his replacement, though dumped pivot Richie Williams is likely to be reinstated to partner Mathew Head in the halves.
The Cowboys have injury problems of their own with five-eighth Jason Smith out of the match after succumbing to an ankle injury. Lock Justin Smith is favoured to move to pivot to replace his namesake with Jacob Lillyman likely to come off the bench and into the starting side.
Up north, Brisbane's international centre Justin Hodges has passed a late fitness test and will play against Penrith in tonight's clash at Suncorp Stadium.
Hodges had been in doubt with a knee injury but was given a stringent examination this morning by the club's medical staff before being given the green light for tonight's match. The 24-year-old Test centre was asked to sprint at full pace and move laterally during the mid-morning fitness test.
It's a double shot of confidence for Brisbane with Australian captain Darren Lockyer being passed fit yesterday to make his comeback from an ankle injury. The defending champions are looking for their first win of the season following losses to the Cowboys and Warriors.
Down south, and Cronulla may yet be at full strength for tomorrow's NRL match with South Sydney after injured trio Adam Dykes, Lance Thompson and Brett Pomeroy all completed training.
Five-eighth Dykes (foot), centre Pomeroy (bruised rib) and backrower Thompson (knee) had been in doubt all week with niggling injuries, but got through the closed session at Toyota Park in a sign all three may start.