Cronulla Sharks captain Paul Gallen has backed Matt Lodge’s return to the NRL but called for the controversial Brisbane Broncos prop to pay compensation to his victims after learning he had in fact threatened a woman.
Gallen spoke in support of Lodge during Cronulla’s media day on Sunday but later moved to clarify his comments by posting an Instagram video in which he said he had discovered more about the former Wests Tigers forward’s violent attack in New York.
“I’ve since found out more about the story and found out that Matt actually threatened a woman, which in my books is bad enough and my opinion of Matt and this whole situation has greatly lowered,” Gallen said.
“While I admit I am no angel, I’ve done things on the drink that I’m not proud of, but violence against women is not one of them. Whether it be threatening or physical, that’s just a no-go in my books.”
Lodge was ordered to pay $1.6 million in damages to four victims he terrorised during a drunken rampage in 2015, including a German tourist, Carolin Dekeyser, whom he told: “Do you think you’re going to die? This is the night you’re going to die.”
With the 22-year-old Bronco set to resume his NRL career as soon as Thursday night, CCTV footage has emerged of Lodge assaulting Joseph Cartright after he had attempted to come to the rescue of two women the prop chased into an apartment.
However, Gallen still believes Lodge deserves another chance in the NRL but said he should be forced to pay compensation.
“I am not rebutting any of my comments that if Matt passes all requirements by the NRL to be allowed back into the game the he should be allowed to play,’’ Gallen said in the video.
“That’s just the way it is. The NRL has their rules and regulations they go by and if he’s passed all of them then he should be allowed back. Hopefully he’s made to pay the compensation to his victims.”
Earlier, Gallen told reporters: “I think he’s served his time, to be honest.
“He’s been out of the game for a couple of years now, he’s paid a heavy price and obviously has a heavy fine to pay.
“How long can you keep punishing someone for? I don’t know. I don’t have the answer for that.
“If you’re asking me, a couple of years out of the game, all the scrutiny he’s faced in the media and the pressure on him, I think he’s served his time and he’ll be back playing.’’
“We let back blokes back into the game who touched women and hit women. I wouldn’t put him in that class with other blokes like that still playing, so let’s just move on. If he’s served his time and done everything required of him, how long do we keep punishing him for? I don’t know.’’
Gallen said the vision of Lodge assaulting Cartright, which was widely broadcast on Friday night, did not change his view.
“The vision didn’t do him any favours as far as being a good fighter,’’ Gallen said.
“Obviously, it didn’t look good, I’m not trying to make a joke of it. It didn’t turn out the best for him obviously.
“It wasn’t the type of footage anyone wants to see, but how long ago was it? Two or three years ago? How long do you keep punishing someone when he’s done everything required of him so far.’’
He also rejected comparisons between Lodge and former Sharks playmaker Todd Carney, who was sacked by the club after footage was posted on social media of him appearing to urinate in his mouth at a Cronulla pub.
“At the end of the day if Todd wants to come back he’s got to apply and come back to the NRL, that’s up to Todd and his ability and where he’s at at the moment with his life,” Gallen said.
“I think he’s well into his 30s now and I’m not even sure if he wants to come back. Obviously Lodge is at an age where he can still play in the NRL, he wants to play in the NRL and he has the ability to play in the NRL.”