Hodges deserved captaincy: Parker

There were no awkward moments when Justin Hodges was named Brisbane captain ahead of Corey Parker.

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“Coz (Parker) was probably the first to congratulate me,” said Hodges, who shared the Brisbane reins with Parker last year.

However, one looms ahead of Thursday night’s NRL season opener against South Sydney at Suncorp Stadium.

Hodges had been expected to lead the team out after returning coach Wayne Bennett opted for the veteran centre ahead of Parker and Sam Thaiday.

But Broncos tradition indicates a player celebrating a major milestone runs out first.

And Parker becomes just the second Brisbane player to shatter the 300-game barrier in the NRL blockbuster.

It has the potential to strain the friendship but Parker seemed bemused by the predicament.

“We haven’t actually spoken about that but Hodgo is the captain so I assume he will run out first,” he smiled.

Parker confirmed he was the first to embrace Hodges after Bennett made the captaincy call last week.

“Why wouldn’t I? He is a great mate of mine,” he said.

“He is the captain and I endorse that.

“It’s a great achievement. It was only right for me to go and congratulate him.

“It was a great reward for him.”

However, Parker said no longer having the ‘c’ against his name would not alter his on-field leadership role.

“Nothing is going to change with me,” he said.

“We have leaders throughout different departments on the field.”

It may be a milestone match for Parker but it also looms as a big game for Bennett.

It will mark the foundation Broncos coach’s official return since ending a seven-year hiatus and reclaiming the Brisbane coaching reins.

Asked if Bennett’s return was like putting on an old pair of slippers, Parker laughed: “They are an old pair of slippers.

“(But) he has been refreshing for the club.

“He made it clear as soon as he came back that things were going to change and for the better.”

Asked if Bennett was nervous ahead of his comeback match, Parker said: “You have to ask him.

“He holds a pretty good poker face.”

Meanwhile, Lachlan Maranta slotted onto the right wing ahead of Daniel Vidot, while Aaron Whitchurch was named as a utility on an extended bench.

Whitchurch last played for Brisbane in 2013 before suffering a back injury.

Big name recruits named to make their Broncos debuts are pivot Anthony Milford, Kiwi prop Adam Blair and impact forward James Gavet.