Wayne Bennet in talks with Matt Lodge for possible NRL return, but says Lodge has hurdles to overcome

Lodge has to overcome hurdles first
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Wayne Bennet in talks with Matt Lodge for possible NRL return, but says Lodge has hurdles to overcome
Wikimedia Commons/Naparazzi Naparazzi, Creative Commons

The Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett held secret talks with Matthew Lodge to discuss a potential return to the NRL but said Lodge need to get over a few hurdles before he can return.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Lodge’s professional rugby career appeared to be over following his involvement in a New York rampage last October, where he assaulted a man and stalked two women and told them “this is the night you die.” Lodge’s Wests Tigers contract was torn up following his arrest.

The incident prompted NRL officials to disallow Lodge to play first grade or even participate in the Intrust Super Premiership. The officials need to be satisfied first that Lodge has served sufficient penalty and he has taken steps to turn his troubled life around.

Lodge’s troubled life still hasn’t dissuaded Bronco’s coach Bennet from considering Lodge for a possible return to the NRL. Bennet believes there are instances where the rugby league could help transform the lives of troubled players.

"Packer is a good example of that," Bennett said. "There have been others as well, a couple of boys playing at Parramatta. They got opportunities to play again.”

Bennet says, though, that Lodge returning to the NRL is still up to the controversial forward.

“He has a few hurdles to overcome,” Bennet told The Courier Mail. “He has to satisfy the NRL of his rehabilitation.”

Bennet adds that he would be interested in signing Lodge if he is allowed back by the NRL. He said that there’s not much that they can do unless Lodge does the things the league wants to allow him back. He adds that it’s basically about the NRL clearing Lodge to play.

A spokesperson for the NRL said that Lodge needs to prove that he is fit and proper to be allowed to play top-level league again. He said that a player should be able to demonstrate that their issues have been resolved before they’re allowed a contract.