Before he can fit back into an NRL jumper, Matthew Lodge must first demonstrate to others and, more importantly, to himself that he can fit back into the community.
The first tentative steps on the journey began late last year. They have been drug and alcohol-free, which is significant given his past.
“It’s been just over 10 months [alcohol-free],” Lodge said. “I’m looking forward to getting a year, then two years, five, 10. That’s the vision for me, not just a year.”
Already he has been sounded out about a return. Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett secretly met with Lodge last month to discuss his future.
There is certainly no physical impediment to his return. Despite the lengthy lay-off, he remains in good condition following resistance training sessions at Cato Rutherford’s Lift Performance Centre. Roger Fabri has also been working with Lodge on “educated mechanics” ahead of the opening of the renowned sprint coach’s Speed Agility Academy in coming months.
“He’s certainly not the fastest bloke in the world, but he’s got crazy power,” Fabri said.
“From what he’s shown me in the early stages, he has a high work ethic, commitment and attention to detail. I’d like to see him in the mould of a Jesse Bromwich-type player – good footwork, high speed with some power.”