Controversial forward Matt Lodge is set to make his rugby league return this weekend after avoiding a US jail sentence for a violent night out in New York.
And former Queensland State of Origin rep Adam Mogg has tipped the ex-Tigers prop to soon earn an NRL lifeline after impressing at his Queensland Cup club Redcliffe.
Lodge, 21, is set to run out for Brisbane feeder club Redcliffe in their Queensland Cup trial against Sunshine Coast Falcons at Kawana Waters on Saturday – his first game back since his US arrest two years ago.
Lodge was sacked by Wests Tigers after harassing two women then assaulting a good Samaritan in New York in the early hours of October 16 2015.
The QRL registered Lodge’s Redcliffe contract in October.
But Lodge only learned in December that he would avoid a one-year US jail sentence after a plea deal that included completing 200 hours of community service in Australia.
Redcliffe coach Mogg said Lodge seemed determined to turn his career – and life – around.
“Matt’s done everything possible,” he said.
“He’s trained really well, he’s helping out around the club.
“He’s a real asset to the footy club both on and off the field.”
Broncos scouts are expected to watch Lodge’s return in Redcliffe’s trial against Melbourne feeder club Falcons – a curtain-raiser for the Storm-Warriors clash on Saturday.
Asked if Lodge could crack the NRL again, Mogg said: “Absolutely – if he works hard.
“Matt holds his own destiny.
“But he has set himself up with a fantastic pre-season.
“He’s as fit and as big and strong as he’s ever been because he has worked really hard.
“That is a catalyst for anyone to get to the NRL.”
The US arrest was not the first time Lodge had made headlines for the wrong reasons.
He was suspended by Wests Tigers after being arrested in Kings Cross in 2015 and copped a two-game ban for being spotted in TV coverage wearing wrist tape with “c…” written on it in a 2014 under-20s Origin match.