Lodge moving closer to Broncos captaincy
ANTHONY Seibold has shown his confidence in State of Origin hopeful Matt Lodge by elevating the hardworking prop to Brisbane's leadership group as the 23-year old edges towards a contract extension.
The Courier-Mail can reveal the Broncos coach has formally added Lodge to the senior decision-making core in an emphatic sign of the prop's transformation from wild child to respected leader.
Now the Broncos are ready to further reward Lodge, who is set to shun interest from Parramatta, his rivals on Saturday night, by inking a two or three-year extension with the club.
Lodge's football career and life was at the crossroads four years ago when he was arrested at gunpoint by police following an infamous New York rampage that put him in the Rikers Island prison prison for two weeks.
But Lodge's behaviour at the Broncos in the past two years has been so exemplary it has put him in Brisbane's leadership group, the NSW Origin frame and within reach of the most lucrative payday of his NRL career.
Lodge joins Alex Glenn, Matt Gillett, Andrew McCullough and skipper Darius Boyd in Brisbane's player-power base.
"I've made the decision to put Matt into our leadership group," Seibold revealed.
"About three weeks ago, I made the decision to add Matt to the group.
"It was in the week of the Manly game, because Andrew McCullough went down injured, and I decided to add Lodgey to the group.
"I first met Matt when he was 18 in the under-20s at Melbourne. I've known him a long time and coached him in the Junior Kangaroos, so I've seen his development.
"I made the decision based on his actions on and off the field.
"He is someone that our middle forwards look up to. We have a lot of young players at the club and while Matt is only 23, he has a maturity beyond his years and the young guys really respect him."
Newcastle tabled a lucrative deal for Lodge last season but the 117kg prop stayed with the Broncos, signing a basic one-year contract out of loyalty to the Brisbane bosses who had helped him through his off-field ordeal.
As part of Lodge's 12-month extension, the Broncos agreed to include a two-year option in his favour, which he is expected to take up before June 30.
A bumper performance against the Eels would clinch Lodge his NSW debut for Origin II in Perth on Sunday week and Seibold is confident the once-troubled bookend will not leave the Broncos.
"I'm really confident Matt will stay," Seibold said.
"I know there is interest in Matt but we feel as though a new contract for Matt will be done sooner rather than later.
"We are a long way down the line. We are very confident of keeping Lodgey.
"Brisbane as a city has been a good fit for him and the Broncos as a club have been a good fit.
"He has played his best football over the past 18 months. We do understand there are attractive offers for him elsewhere but we expect things to be finalised sooner rather than later."