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Hodge’s challenge to Lions

Hodge’s challenge to Lions

IF all goes to plan, Luke Hodge will be put into retirement by his younger Brisbane AFL teammates rather than having to announce it himself.

That’s the honest assessment of the four-time premiership player and his Lions teammates ahead of what is likely to be his last AFL season.

Hodge, 34, is fit and willing but knows things could turn quickly if the Lions’ upward curve continues in the second of his two-year deal at the club.

“I’ve always been a competitive person. I don’t like getting dropped but I know at some stage Fages (coach Chris Fagan) is going to say you’re too old and too slow.

“Better blokes for that position and, if that happens, then I’m happy because that means we’re taking the next step up.”

Emerging fullback Harris Andrews plans to soak up what he can from Hodge’s potential farewell season.

“He has been a big help for myself, can get a bit grumpy at times the big fella, but he’s been really helpful and I’m excited for the year ahead of him,” he said.

But, like the man himself, Andrews knows the post-Hodge era isn’t far away.

“He’s not always going to be here, can’t always be the one organising us,” Andrews said.

“You’d hope that the younger guys are going past him.

“It’d be nice to kick him back to the twos (reserves) for a couple of weeks but he’s still playing really good footy and is such a leader out on the ground.”

Hodge remains central to the Lions’ plans to push closer to a finals appearance after a 5-17 record in the 2018 season. The campaign included five losses by seven points or less.

“Our biggest one (focus) this year is those close games … we’ve put a lot of work into the play in those pressure situations and being reliable to your teammate.”

© AAP 2019