Matt Lodge says he is determined to make up for lost time with the Brisbane Broncos.Controversial Brisbane signing Matt Lodge says he wants to repay the NRL club’s faith by helping the Broncos win a premiership in 2018.
Brisbane raised eyebrows when they signed Lodge on a one year deal when the ex-Wests Tigers prop was cleared by the NRL integrity unit two years after being deregistered over an alcohol-fuelled rampage in New York.
Lodge avoided jail in the United States after pleading guilty to reckless assault for the October 2015 incident but was hit with a $1.6 million damages bill.
Test coach Mal Meninga was among Brisbane’s critics for signing Lodge, saying the prop should serve a 12-month ban first.
But Lodge, 22, said he had learned his lesson and wanted to make up for lost time by claiming a Brisbane premiership ring this year.
“In 2018 I want to repay the favour to the club,” Lodge told Broncos website.
“I am committed to winning a comp and playing my best footy I can for the Broncos and help achieve that for the group.”
Lodge avoided a year in jail over the New York incident in which he punched a man before forcing his way into his apartment and trying to kick down the door to a bathroom where the man’s wife and child were hiding.
He was allowed by the NRL to train with the Broncos in 2017 season and impressed for Redcliffe, helping them finish second on the Queensland Cup ladder and being nominated for 2017 player of the year.
“I had a fair stint out. It taught me a lot of lessons so I am pretty grateful for the experience and think I can come back from that a lot better as a player and person,” Lodge said.
Lodge initially planned to retire from rugby league after being hit with the huge damages bill.
At one stage he worked as a landscaper in hometown Sydney before Wayne Bennett convinced him to give the NRL another shot.
“I sat down with Wayne in Sydney and I pretty much knew from that point that I wanted to come up here…and prove myself,” Lodge said.
“It was one of the best one-on-one chats I have had.
“So I just put all my eggs in one basket and came up.
“There were a lot of bumps in the road and it took a while to get here but that just made it better getting here.”
Brisbane signed Lodge to bolster their pack after the off-season departures of Adam Blair, Herman Ese’ese and Jai Arrow.
“I have got a lot of things to prove but I am ready to go,” Lodge said.