Matt Lodge, right, is set for his NRL return with Brisbane against against Gold Coast.The long wait is finally over for ex-NRL bad boy Matt Lodge.
And veteran Brisbane forward Sam Thaiday can’t wait to see the once-troubled enforcer make up for lost time.
Ex-Wests Tigers prop Lodge, 22, will finally launch his comeback almost three years since his last NRL game after being named to make his Brisbane debut in Saturday night’s Toowoomba trial against Gold Coast Titans.
Brisbane raised eyebrows when they signed Lodge for 2018 when the giant prop was cleared by the NRL integrity unit two years after being deregistered over an alcohol-fuelled rampage in New York.
Lodge avoided jail in the United States after pleading guilty to reckless assault for the October 2015 incident but was hit with a $1.6 million damages bill.
Test coach Mal Meninga was among Brisbane’s critics for signing Lodge, saying the prop should first serve a ban.
But Thaiday believed Lodge was ready to repay Brisbane’s faith after impressing in the pre-season.
“What does his selection mean? It means a bit of size, a bit of aggression out on the field,” Thaiday said of Lodge’s looming debut.
“He’s a fantastic ball player as well. He’s going to give us a bit more creativity in the forward pack.
“I am looking forward to seeing what he can do.”
Lodge avoided a year in jail over the New York incident in which he punched a man before forcing his way into his apartment and trying to kick down the door to a bathroom where the man’s wife and child were hiding.
He was allowed by the NRL to train with the Broncos in 2017 season and impressed for Redcliffe, helping them finish second on the Queensland Cup ladder and being nominated for player of the year.
“He has been in the system last year and for a few reasons didn’t get a chance to run around last year,” Thaiday said.
“I am sure he is going to be itching to get out there and play and really prove a few people wrong.”
Brisbane signed Lodge to bolster their 2018 pack after the off-season departures of Adam Blair, Herman Ese’ese and Jai Arrow.