Brisbane Broncos test centre Justin Hodges will not make himself available for a proposed rugby league nines tournament if it replaces the Indigenous All Stars game.
Yesterday, the NRL announced it will shelve the 2014 All Stars match to reduce the demands on players who will appear in this year’s World Cup, which runs from October until the end of November.
The All Stars game, which has become a staple of the NRL preseason campaign since it began in 2010, was scheduled for February in Brisbane.
The NRL says it is trying to ease the demands on its biggest names, but Hodges has criticised the decision.
“Us Indigenous players and obviously our communities and people really look forward to it and to take something so special away,” he said.
“You just see over the last three of four years its been on the amount of support we got and we get to go out to our communities and help our people and to take that away I think is a bad decision.”
No interest in nines tournament
Asked for his views on the proposed nines competition, Hodges says he has no interest in playing.
“I won’t be going,” he continued. “If I’m in the Kangaroos squad it’s too much on your body, by the time you come back to training in January, you’re giving four weeks to prepare, you know it’s not ideal preparation for a long season so I don’t think I’ll be playing.
“I’d rather play the Indigenous game.”
Following yesterday’s announcement, All Stars coach Wayne Bennett said resting the game was the right decision to make as it would lose its importance if the biggest names were unavailable.
“One of the problems the players had was that they wouldn’t come back to training until the end of January after the World Cup … and we couldn’t guarantee any quality football with such a short preparation,” Bennett said.
“This is the best thing to happen as it’s a wonderful concept and I’ve certainly embraced it and so have the All Star players.
“I am just pleased that we have been able to discuss it, take it forward and take into account what the needs of the players are because it’s important to them.”