Sydney environment a danger for Lodge
THE Broncos are facing a new battle to retain Matt Lodge - but the big bopper has been told to think twice about leaving Brisbane for the bright lights of Sydney.
But former Parramatta and Brisbane Origin star Chris Walker has advised Lodge to think twice about quitting the Broncos, believing his long-term footballing career could go south if he returns to Sydney.
The Broncos face a fresh battle to retain Lodge in the face of strong interest from the Parramatta club he faces on Saturday night at Bankwest Stadium.
Lodge is off-contract at season's end and has a two-year option with the Broncos in his favour, opening the door for the Eels, who are chasing a prop following the shock departure of Tim Mannah to the Wests Tigers.
Lodge can press his NSW Origin claims at Bankwest Stadium and Price, the 259-game Parramatta icon, says the 24-year-old would be the perfect replacement for Mannah.
"The Eels need another prop and if they are looking at Matt Lodge, they should sign him," said Price, who played eight Origin games for NSW.
"The whole joint needs consistency and I like the look of Lodge. He is a tough bastard and will give the place some mongrel upfront.
"I can't believe the Eels have gotten rid of Mannah, he never stops trying that bloke, but if they need another prop, signing Lodge is a good move.
"He is a very decent prop and if NSW are looking at him for Origin, I think he's more than capable.
"To handle Origin, you simply need a big heart and the attitude to have a go and Matt Lodge does that. He would be up to that level for sure."
Lodge's Brisbane teammates this week endorsed the rampaging prop to make his Origin debut in Perth.
"There's no reason why his name shouldn't be mentioned," Broncos and Queensland backrower Matt Gillett said.
"He's a big body and gets a lot of momentum, a bit like (NSW forward) Payne Haas. Lodge wouldn't look out of place in that Blues jersey."
Walker, a former Queensland Origin centre, began his career at the Broncos in 1999 before a final stint with the Eels in 2011.
A self-confessed wild child who once battled the same alcohol problems that Lodge confronted during his New York rampage in 2015, Walker believes the hulking prop should stay loyal to the Broncos.
"I know Lodge is a western Sydney boy so Parra might be the right fit for him, but I'd like to see him stay where he is," Walker said.
"If he ever left the Broncos, the best place for him would be Souths, where he would play under Wayne Bennett, who helped bring Matt back to the game.
"I've met Matt briefly and he was very respectful and he made a good impression on me.
"I don't think Parramatta is the best club for Lodge.
"The Broncos give players every opportunity to succeed. There is no more professional club in the game - they give Lodge the best environment possible to keep playing well."