The photo moment that keeps Brimson grounded

AJ Brimson was 10 years old when he chased Justin Hodges through a carpark to capture a photo with the Queensland legend after a game at Suncorp Stadium.

The Gold Coast young gun was born a Bronco, idolised Hodges and Darren Lockyer, along with the entire Maroons team.

What happened next left him with one of his earliest memories in rugby league.

"I still have a laugh about it with my mum," Brimson told NRL.com.

"Playing rugby league or touch footy was everything I wanted to do since I was a kid. I grew up watching the Broncos every game I could on TV. I used to go every Friday, as they get every Friday night.

"We stopped Justin, he was injured or had left the ground early, we'd watched his every move that night.

"The photo was on an old camera back then and something happened, we didn't end up getting it. We were gutted but it was still cool to chase him down and he was like 'yeah sweet' and has a chat to me about playing footy."

Memories of that moment have left Brimson with a perspective around his impact on young fans now, having arrived on the scene in 2018 as one of the game's next rising stars.

Brimson and Hodges would reunite almost a decade later through the under-20s State of Origin campaign.

"I haven't told him about the photo story, and definitely not in camp. I didn't want to suck up to him and I didn't think he would remember," the 20-year-old said.

"Hodges was a big name and you'd be stoked if you got a photo or spoke to him. But now when fans come up to me I just think like I don't mean much to them. I'm not anything to me.

"Then you think back to those days and it mattered to me. I try and remind myself of that."

New under-20s Queensland coach Justin Hodges.
New under-20s Queensland coach Justin Hodges. ©NRL Photos.

He's played both at five-eighth and fullback but where the latest Keebra Park prodigy plays next season could depend on the early form of Tyrone Roberts and Ash Taylor in the halves in 2019.

Gold Coast recruit Tyrone Peachey is also an option for Garth Brennan in the pivot role.

After finishing his maiden year strong at fullback, the thought of second year syndrome, or opposing sides targeting him more next season, has crossed Brimson's mind.

"I just want to be a part of it and play all the way through," he said.

"I'm wary of next year but we've got a lot of good players that they'd do video on before me. There's heaps of freaks out there like [Kalyn] Ponga that no matter how much video you do it shouldn't matter."

Brimson is hopeful of a return in the Titans' final trial against the Broncos on March 2 after off-season shoulder surgery.

"It's going well, I'm hopeful of contact in late January," he said.

"I'm out there training with the boys again. It's my first major shoulder injury so I'm taking my time.

"There's a few boys that have had reconstructions so I'm always asking them what sort of exercises to do and when I feel pain I ask them if it's normal.

"The aim is last trial which should be realistic if everything goes well."