‘Do you mind if I play?’: How Matt Lodge ended up in Brisbane club rugby

A fifty-minute cameo in Brisbane club rugby by former Warriors prop Matt Lodge was more than enough for Brisbane Norths coach Pat Byron to pencil in the NRL front-rower as his first grade No.8 for Saturday.

Whether Lodge laces up the boots – or is signed by a new NRL team before then – remains to be seen, however.

Matt Lodge left the Warriors abruptly last week.Credit:Getty

“If he wants to play, happy days, we will pick him in first grade but if he might have an NRL contract by tomorrow or Friday,” Byron told the Herald.

“So we will wait and see.”

Just four days after abruptly leaving the Warriors, Lodge surprised a small band of club rugby fans on Tuesday night when he turned out in the rain for North’s second grade team against Bond University.

Byron said the code switch had come after he approached by the Lodge camp at the weekend to ask if the 26-year-old NSW Origin prop could come down and train with Norths “to keep fit and do some skills”. Lodge said he had played some rugby at high school.

When he turned up at training, Lodge learned a second-grade was game being played that night as a wet-weather catch-up clash.

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“He said: ‘do you mind if I play in the second grade game?’ and we weren’t going to say no, so he paid his subs on the spot, bought his socks and shorts and they brought him for the last 50 minutes,” Byron said.

“He went well. He didn’t get as many carries and what he would have wanted … the weather up here is pretty wet. He made some strong carries but it was more his defence that was probably the most impressive thing. He put on some very impressive shots, as you could imagine, playing against Brisbane second-graders.”

Byron said Lodge is due to train with the Eagles again on Thursday but is unsure if he will play against Sunnybank on Saturday, or in any more games this season.

“Moving forward, the ball is in his court. We are not putting any pressure on him to play again,” Byron said.

“He is going to come to training tomorrow and he’ll let us know. He wants to play. He was up front, he said I might be with you a week, two weeks, a month … who knows. It is all just dependent on what happens with his NRL stuff.”

Lodge has long been linked with a move to the Dolphins in 2023 given his ties to the club through his father-in-law and recruitment chief Peter O’Sullivan and veteran coach Wayne Bennett, who signed him at Brisbane after a three-year exile from the game.

Lodge and the Warriors agreed to part ways after the 26-year-old knocked back a lucrative three-year extension during the pre-season and declined to take up a 2023 option in his favour.

“I couldn’t see my family living in New Zealand for a long-term future,” Lodge said.

“Therefore we decided that the best thing for the club was for us to mutually part ways so they have some clarity.”

Watch every match of the Super Rugby Pacific on the Home of Rugby, Stan Sport. Continues this weekend with Crusaders v Reds (Friday 4:30pm AEST), Moana Pasifika v Brumbies (Saturday 4:30pm AEST), and Waratahs v Blues (Saturday 7:15pm AEST). All streaming ad-free, live and on demand only on Stan Sport.

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