Why ‘alpha-male’ Lodge owes Broncos everything

The future of controversial Broncos prop Matt Lodge remains clouded and speculation the big man is on the way out at Red Hill just won't go away.

While he remains contracted with the club until 2024, he has been linked with moves to other NRL clubs with the Broncos potentially paying a portion of his salary.

Today we look at some of the pros and cons of Lodge as a Bronco and ultimately where he fits in as Brisbane attempt to rebuild in 2021.

BRISBANE NEED HIS LEADERSHIP

It's unlikely Lodge will ever captain the Broncos but his leadership through the middle is vital, according to Queensland great Billy Moore.

Lodge has played 65 first-grade games for both the Tigers and Broncos over five seasons and remains one of Brisbane's most experienced forwards.

Moore believed Lodge was crucial to the club's current roster in being the "intimidator" in the side.

"With the rest of the roster they've currently got, he's of vital importance," Moore said.

"I don't think he's a captain but he's an alpha-male.

Matt Lodge still has four years to run on his contract. Picture: Annette Dew
Matt Lodge still has four years to run on his contract. Picture: Annette Dew

"His leadership quality is never going to be at the corporate function in a suit and tie.

"He's the leader on the field and one the young guys need to look to, to contain the opposition alpha-male.

"The other players need him to do his job, and that's being the intimidator.

"You think about the great Brisbane teams when they've won premierships, they've had the intimidators like Gavin Allen, Trevor Gillmeister, and Gorden Tallis."

Former Broncos captain Corey Parker said Lodge's experience "of course" counted for something and backed him to be the tough man in the Brisbane engine room.

"He's a tough bastard," Parker said.

"He's a play one carry, cop and that first play is always the toughest.

"Last year, he was spoken about for Origin but then due to his injuries, we're talking like he can't make the 17."

EVERYONE BENEFITS FROM A FIT LODGE

Lodge only managed to play six games during the tumultuous 2020 season because of injury but is back at full fitness during pre-season training.

And at his best, Lodge is a force to be reckoned with.

According to Fox Sports Lab, Lodge averaged 142 metres per game and 62 tackle breaks in 22 games during the 2019 season.

 

Matt Lodge’s 2020 was plagued by injury. Picture: Peter Wallis
Matt Lodge’s 2020 was plagued by injury. Picture: Peter Wallis

 

Moore said if he can return to that form, it would benefit all parties at Red Hill.

"It's in everyone's best interest that the best of Matt Lodge comes to the fore in 2021," Moore said.

"It would give Brisbane a chance to see their investment in Lodge return, and also the opportunity to move him on because if he's playing well, more clubs will be interested.

"No one will want him if he's playing busted."

CAN HE KEEP UP WITH THE GAME?

One concern held for Lodge is the introduction of the six-again rule to quicken up the pace of the game.

Some people believe the rule changes will force the game's big men to become redundant.

"I hope he gets fit over the pre-season because the six-again rule has taken a bit away from the Lodge-type player," Moore said.

"A full off-season of training, knowing that rule exists, you'll work out in the first six months of 2021, whether the Lodges are going to become redundant.

"If the game continues to quicken up around the ruck, which I hope it doesn't, it'll make those players obsolete.

 

Many believe Matt Lodge struggled under the NRL’s new rules. Picture: AAP/Darren England
Many believe Matt Lodge struggled under the NRL’s new rules. Picture: AAP/Darren England

 

"Because they dropped the rule in, in the middle of the season, there wasn't enough time to see what the butterfly effect would be."

However, Parker believed there was still a place for the big prop in today's game.

"People are saying the game is too quick for Lodge - what a load of rubbish," Parker said.

"The injuries he was carrying, limited his ability in that area.

"When you're under the pump and the momentum is against you, no matter who you are it is difficult.

"There is still a part in the game for the big prop.

"What Matt Lodge can do from a ball-carrying perspective is equal to anyone else in the game and he just needs to get his body right."

ISSUES OFF THE FOOTY FIELD

"The negative is the New York incident which is the elephant in the room," Moore said, referring to his arrest in 2015 following a wild rampage.

"But I'm all about loyalty and Matt Lodge owes Brisbane a fairly big favour.

"When you look at the opportunity Brisbane gave him and the chance he had, he's been below best in the past year or so because of injuries.

"He has something to repay there."

 

Brisbane Broncos announce Matt Lodge signing in 2018. Picture: AAP/Darren England
Brisbane Broncos announce Matt Lodge signing in 2018. Picture: AAP/Darren England

 

Parker said the club and Lodge had to smoke the peace pipe if they are to carry on.

"The first thing is that Lodge needs to have the backing of the coach," Parker said.

"If you're an individual turning up to work every day and you have the feeling in the pit of your stomach that your coach doesn't want you, then it's hard.

"From the outside looking in, it appears that way."

THE VERDICT

If Lodge can recapture his dominant 2019 form and win Walters over, then there's still a place for the big man at the Broncos.

However, the club simply can't afford to absorb his salary for the next four years if he serves up more of the same that he did in 2020.

The experts agreed and said all Lodge needed to do was get his body in good order and return to form.

"I just go back to what he is and what he can bring and judge him having worked alongside him," Parker said.

"What he simply needs to do is get his body right.

"If I'm going out to play a game of footy, I want to be going out to play alongside a guy like Matt Lodge."

Moore said Lodge's value to the Broncos should not be judged on his injury-riddled 2020 season alone.

"The only real option is to stay in Brisbane and it's not a bad option to have because he's got a deal that would go for another few years," Moore said.

"The most important thing for Lodge is to get his body right, that's been his big issue.

"Injuries have obviously curtailed his ability to play on the field.

"He's been playing busted but I still think Lodge is important for the Broncos."

Originally published as Why 'alpha-male' Lodge owes Broncos everything



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