Matt Lodge puts in the hard yarns at training.
Matt Lodge puts in the hard yarns at training. DAVID CLARK

Meninga backs NRL warning for Broncos recruit

TEST coach Mal Meninga has turned up the heat on Matt Lodge as the NRL warned the controversial Broncos prop not to disgrace the code and step out of line again.

Brisbane's lifeline for Lodge has sparked a firestorm of criticism and NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg on Tuesday issued a firm directive to the Broncos enforcer - demanding he respect the game.

Greenberg's edict was supported by Kangaroos coach Meninga, who urged Lodge not to blow his second chance in the wake of his infamous New York rampage in 2015.

The 23-year-old prop was outstanding in a trial against the Titans last Saturday night and will be named in the front row for Brisbane's premiership opener against the Dragons on March 8.

But Lodge's NRL resurrection has prised open bitter wounds, with American lawyers vowing to continue pursuing the forward for the $1.6 million he still owes the victims of his drunken assault in the US.

Matthew Lodge (blue shirt) seen on CCTV during a violent rampage in a New York apartment building.
Matthew Lodge (blue shirt) seen on CCTV during a violent rampage in a New York apartment building. SUPPLIED

Greenberg on Tuesday defended the NRL's decision to register Lodge's Broncos contract but admits the 116kg hulk cannot falter under Brisbane's rehabilitation plan.

"He is getting a second opportunity and he needs to take it with both hands,” Greenberg said.

"He cannot disrespect the opportunity and I'm sure he won't, but the decision (to behave) rests with the him and the accountability sits with him and his club.

"Matt made some really poor decisions and got himself into a bad situation and no one condones anything he did.

"He spent a significant time out of the game, more than two years. He has demonstrated to us in writing and through the relationship with his club about the commitment he is making to get a second chance.”

"The game of league has an ability to shape the rest of his life, he's a young man who has made a very bad error.”

Lodge spent time in a US prison as he awaited his return to Australia following his arrest by New York police at gunpoint three years ago.

Anti-domestic violence campaigners have slammed the NRL for registering Lodge's contract after his US drunken rampage which involved a family including a nine-year-old child.

Mal Meninga says Lodge needs to learn his lesson.
Mal Meninga says Lodge needs to learn his lesson. LUKAS COCH

Test icon Meninga has taken a hard-line stance on player misconduct and says Lodge cannot afford to give the NRL another black eye.

"I don't know the full story with the legal stuff but the game is redemptive,” he said.

"We all make mistakes but it's how you bounce back. I just hope Matt Lodge does the right thing and makes the most of his new life here and now.

"The NRL has made a decision that he can play again and that's fine but he needs to look after the game.

"It's about respect now.”

Greenberg has met with Lodge and claims the Broncos forward is determined to rebuild his life.

Todd Greenberg speaks to the media.
Todd Greenberg speaks to the media. ALEX MURRAY

Lodge insists he has not touched alcohol since his night of shame in New York.

"I saw a young man who had been through a difficult episode in his life but is genuinely committed to turning his life around,” Greenberg said.

"There are examples of (NRL players) who have done time in prison but have come back and been shining lights for their communities, their families and the sport.

"I hope Matt Lodge is one of them.”

Broncos assistant coach Kevin Walters said Lodge's behaviour has been exemplary in his time at Red Hill.

"I'm sure he is full of remorse and I can only judge him on the work he has done in the last three months,” he said.

"There are some people out there with a different opinion of Matt but only his character can change those opinions.”


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