Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
On Friday morning the New Zealand Warriors confirmed that Matt Lodge had been granted an immediate release as the 26-year-old is unwilling to relocate to New Zealand when the club moves back over the Tasman permanently in early July.
Lodge hadn’t been at the Warriors for long either as he made a midseason move to the club from the Brisbane Broncos last year.
Both Lodge and Warriors CEO Cameron George put out a statement via the club’s official website.
“I couldn’t see my family living in New Zealand for a long-term future,” said Lodge.
“Therefore we decided that the best thing for the club was for us to mutually part ways so they have some clarity.”
George was very understanding of Lodge’s predicament when he spoke to the Warriors media team.
“Matt told us a while ago that for professional and personal reasons he couldn’t commit to a long-term future in New Zealand when we return home for next season,” said George.
Matt Lodge granted immediate release
— Vodafone Warriors (@NZWarriors) May 20, 2022
“The opportunity for him to leave now allows us to move forward with our future planning and to develop our younger players.”
All eyes will now be on where Lodge ends up next as he is currently a free agent and likely willing to sign a reduced contract for the rest of 2022 at least.
His former club the Brisbane Broncos would no longer need his services and even if they did have a deep forward pack with the additions of Kurt Capewell, Corey Jensen and Ryan James in the off-season.
Lodge’s main issue is that most clubs already have somewhat of an established starting forward pack so he would have to be content with coming off of the bench or even spending time in reserve grade.
The Sea Eagles have some promising young forwards in their side but over the past two seasons their pack has been inconsistent so they may be willing to take Lodge on for the rest of the season to see if anything changes.
At the very least Manly would be getting an experienced prop who has come close to State of Origin selection in the past.
Newcastle is struggling in many areas of the field at the moment and whilst signing Lodge would not even come close to fixing their problems his intensity could fit in well in the Knights forward pack.
Lodge’s first NRL club the Wests Tigers also need a serious injection of intensity in their pack and an impact player to come off of the bench.