The Courier-Mail

Hodges ready to tackle Cherry

- CHRIS GARRY

JUSTIN Hodges has predicted Daly Cherry-Evans will return from injury to face the Broncos on Friday night, allowing the Sea Eagles star to secure his Maroons jersey for Game Two.

Hodges, adamant CherryEvan­s would play against Brisbane, was launching the Broncos’ latest indigenous jersey (below), just the second in their 27-year history.

Hodges had physio during his day off yesterday but will return to the Broncos for Friday’s clash with Manly at Suncorp Stadium.

Cherry-Evans was thought to be racing the clock to be fit for Origin II at the MCG on June 17.

However, Brisbane’s captain said he knew days ago the star half would play.

“We knew Cherry would come back this week from when he was in Origin camp,” Hodges told The Courier-Mail. “He will add more fuel to their fire.

“He will have a massive impact. I watched their game on the weekend and they looked like the Manly of old, and then they have Cherry coming back,” he said.

“Cherry helps Kieran (Foran) too because he allows Kieran to just run hard and straight.”

The NRL’s Indigenous Close The Gap round is not until Round 22, when Brisbane plays Canterbury, but the Broncos jersey is released today for sale.

While Australian Football was embroiled in controvers­y regarding its attitude towards indigenous players following Adam Goodes’ war dance, Hodges said he was comfortabl­e with how rugby league officials helped the indigenous community.

“The QRL have done a good job with programs such as ARTIE,” he said. “You see a lot of indigenous kids playing rugby league these days.

“We have tremendous leaders in the game with Sam Thaiday, Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston leading the way.

“The more we can encourage them to reach their goals, the better we will be.

“Indigenous kids are pretty shy but when it comes to the sport they play … that is where they shine.”

The Manly game against Brisbane means CherryEvan­s will be in southeast Queensland on the weekend of Round 13, the deadline he has to backflip on his Gold Coast Titans deal.

Titans chief executive Graham Annesley said yesterday he had not been in contact with Cherry-Evans and would not reach out to him this week.

If CherryEvan­s decided to stay at Manly, who have offered him a revised deal, it would shatter the Titans’ plans for 2016.

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