Hodges would welcome Dugan at Broncos

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    Brisbane centre Justin Hodges would welcome the freakish talents of dumped Canberra fullback Josh Dugan if the club decided to resurrect his NRL career.

    While club officials maintained their silence surrounding negotiations with the 22 year-old, Hodges was happy to talk about having Dugan as a teammate should the six-time premiers go down that path.

    Hodges, who ruled out a possible return to fullback next season after Corey Norman’s decision to accept a huge offer from Parramatta on Monday, said he did not have a problem if Dugan joined a Broncos roster which could use some more strike power.

    “Definitely – his talent on the field is freakish. He does things other players can’t do,” said Hodges amid ongoing speculation Brisbane were in negotiations with Dugan and his manager.

    “If he does sign here, it would be good.

    “Hopefully we could look after him off the field and get his mind right. If you get his off-field dramas settled, I think you will see a very different Dugan.

    “I think there’s a lot of untapped skill we haven’t seen yet. He’s still got a whole lot to prove yet and, if he has the right people around him, and he is happy off the field and happy at the club, I think you’ll see a better player.”

    Signing Dugan would ease the pressure on Hodges, regularly double marked by opposition coaches who stack their left-side defence to deal with him.

    The Broncos are understood to be conducting a detailed check on Dugan and are also seeking assurances from him and his manager that he will make the necessary behavioural changes required to represent Brisbane.

    Signing Dugan almost 12 months after cutting promising outside back Dane Gagai from a two-year contract might be seen by some as hypocritical, given Gagai was allegedly let go for a string of minor disciplinary breaches while Dugan had several alcohol-related incidents at the Raiders.

    Brisbane also have a ready-made replacement for Norman in Kiwi custodian Josh Hoffman who has been pushed to the wing this season in a backline reshuffle to accommodate veteran Scott Prince at five-eighth.

    Meanwhile, Hodges is hopeful of returning from a hamstring injury against Melbourne at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

    “I ran strongly and freely at training so it’s just a matter of how it pulls up – whether it’s sore or tight in the morning,” he said.

    “I won’t go in (to the game) unless I am 100 per cent. It’s a big game and you don’t go into it underdone.

    “I’ll have another run on Thursday and do another fitness test and hopefully I’m sweet.”

    © AAP 2017

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