League: Hoffman to decide on future after World Cup

By Michael Brown

Kiwis fullback Josh Hoffman says he will make a decision on his NRL future after he returns to Brisbane. Photo / Getty
Kiwis fullback Josh Hoffman says he will make a decision on his NRL future after he returns to Brisbane. Photo / Getty

Kiwis fullback Josh Hoffman says he will make a decision on his NRL future after he returns to Brisbane following the World Cup.

The 25-year-old has been the focus of speculation following the Broncos' high-profile signing of 2012 Dally M Medallist Ben Barba. Broncos teammate Justin Hodges also inflamed the situation when he told AAP, "I don't think [Hoffman] is the right guy for fullback'' and questioned his passing ability.

Hoffman is contracted to Brisbane until the end of 2015 but is reportedly disillusioned and weighing up his options, with the Bulldogs - the club Barba gained a release from to join the Broncos - one of two clubs said to be interested in his services.

He spent most of the season on the wing, scoring 15 tries, but prefers fullback and his chances appear bleak with Barba's arrival - although Brisbane could interchange the pair during games in much the same way Hoffman sometimes did with Hodges between fullback and centre this year.

Broncos great Wally Lewis also thinks Braba could be a success at five-eighth.

The Broncos have said they won't release Hoffman under any circumstances but he said he will address that when he returns from the UK. It's likely he will have had talked the situation through with Kiwis coach and Brisbane assistant Stephen Kearney.

"There has been a lot of speculation,'' he said. "At this stage, I'm just trying to play some good footy at the World Cup and hopefully win the World Cup. Once that is all done and dusted and I get back to Brisbane I will hopefully make my decision from there.

"I'm trying to avoid everything and just focus on what is going on here.''

Hoffman's main concern is trying to get his shoulder right to play Scotland in Saturday morning's (NZT) quarter-final in Leeds. He wrenched the AC joint in his shoulder in last weekend's 56-10 defeat of Papua New Guinea, something he did in the final game of the NRL season.

Like then, Hoffman feared his World Cup might be over.

"I was really lucky to get out of that one,'' he said of the first time he injured his shoulder. "The scans came out really positive and I'm lucky to be here. At the time I did the shoulder against the Kumuls it was hard to take. I reflected on what happened in the club game.

"At this stage I am trying to keep out of the physical contact. If it gets any sorer, I might have to get a needle in it. There's nothing a needle can't fix.''

The Kiwis are confident Hoffman will be fine to play against Scotland but have Warriors fullback Kevin Locke ready to step in. Locke can be a matchwinner on his day but produced a patchy display in his only World Cup appearance against France.

Hoffman would be in line to play his sixth test since making his debut in last year's Anzac test at Eden Park. It wasn't one the Kiwis anticipated a couple of years previously until they learned of Hoffman's heritage.

He was born and raised in Mackay, north Queensland, and played representative football for Queensland juniors and it was assumed he would press for higher honours with the Maroons and Australia. But a trip with his New Zealand-born father to Rotorua late in 2010 changed everything when they visited his father's marae and the tribe's ancient burial site.

"That was a special moment for me and my dad,'' Hoffman remembered.

"It was seeing my dad and the way he was emotional about the history of our ancestors who were once on that land and the way it touched him. It really had that connection with me. Seeing him emotional made me emotional. Just being there, the presence of the whole marae, made me want to play for the Kiwis.''

- APNZ

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