Former Brisbane Broncos captain Gorden Tallis insists Matt Lodge will “have to talk about what he did in the public arena” at some stage as the 22-year-old prop’s NRL return edges closer.
Opinions on Lodge have polarised rugby league fans, particularly Broncos supporters, who are concerned he has not paid the price for his alcohol-fuelled rampage in New York in 2015.
Victims of his actions are seeking $1.6 million in damages in what is now a civil case before the courts.
Tallis said it was more appropriate for Lodge to “let his footy do the talking first” at this stage, but was quick to add that the time would come where he would have to answer difficult questions.
“He is going to face the media,” Tallis said.
“He is going to have to talk about what he did in the public arena because that is way society is at the moment.
“There are no secrets in our game and there’s not going to be with him. He is going to have to address it, and I am sure that he will.”
Just last week Broncos CEO Paul White said Lodge had already had a long stint out of the game, had turned his life around and had gone through all the processes required by the NRL to be allowed back in the game. He also made the point that the civil action was ongoing.
While plenty of people at the Broncos have vouched for Lodge, Tallis was asked whether it as time for Lodge himself to explain himself.
Tallis said “everybody deserves a second chance” and explained his strident public comments last year about Lodge.
“I’ll stand by what I said. I said the Broncos used to release players like that,” he said.
“There are blokes like Russell Packer back playing the game and there have been players who have made mistakes before.
“We have all made them. There are rubbers on the ends of pencils because everybody makes mistakes.
“But the thing I was thinking about [when making the previous statements] is that this club has been rich and it is proud and with the history it has had we’ve normally stayed away from players like that.”
Tallis said the people making the decisions on Lodge at the Broncos were no mugs.
“Paul White is a great administrator and Wayne [Bennett] has been around longer than me in the game,” he said.
“If he has jumped through all the hoops well he deserves a second chance, but when I got asked [initially] there was 15 other clubs that could have signed Matt Lodge.”
Tallis was questioned about Bennett’s statement that Lodge was a good football player and whether that was sufficient reason to sign him.
“He’s played 15 games,” Tallis said.
“I don’t know if anyone is a good player after 15 games. I was hopeless after 15 actually, and my last 15 were even worse.
“Brisbane needs size. In 1992 and 1993 they needed size and bought a guy named Glenn Lazarus and he certainly provided that.
“We were lucky enough to have blokes like Andrew Gee, Petero Civoniceva and Shane Webcke who put on that famous front-row jersey and would always lead the side.
“Since then we haven’t really found a guy. Matt Lodge did have huge wraps when he was a kid. Time will tell whether he is going to be a great Broncos player.”
Tallis said he had received plenty of feedback that would suggest Lodge would handle the pressure.
“From all reports from the blokes who have something to do with him at training, they speak quite highly of him,” Tallis said.
“They are some of the people I have played with, who say he has learned his lesson and is very good around the guys and speaks openly about the mistakes he has made in life.
“If he has taken ownership of them, then he is going to take ownership of his own ability and performances on the footy field, and that is all you can ask of an athlete.”