Props Payne Haas and Matt Lodge have maintained their storming form for Brisbane, giving them every chance of entering the NSW Blues State of Origin camp.
Now he has secured his NRL future, Brisbane prop Matt Lodge has set his sights on State of Origin.
Lodge, 23, capped a season of redemption by re-signing with the Broncos for another two seasons.
The player booed at season’s start upon his return from a 2015 New York drunken rampage is now a Brisbane fan favourite.
It is a remarkable turnaround but Lodge reckons fans ain’t seen nothing yet.
He aims to go to another level in 2019 – and maybe even earn a NSW debut.
“I didn’t do a pre-season. I just had three years off and kind of rolled into round one without doing training with the boys,” Lodge said.
“But with a pre-season and after more game time and hopefully more minutes I think I will be playing better (in 2019) than the level that I was this year.”
That’s easier said than done.
Lodge was a stand out in his 2018 comeback, playing all 25 of Brisbane’s games this year to be named best forward and finish second in the Player of the Year vote at the club.
It was enough to earn selection in an Emerging NSW squad that will assemble in Sydney next week.
He will join the likes of Sydney Roosters’ Victor Radley, Wests Tigers playmaker Luke Brooks and fellow Broncos Payne Haas and Kotoni Staggs at the December 14 camp under NSW coach Brad Fittler.
“I am a massive Blues fan. It would be good to go down with a couple of the boys, hopefully we get something out of that experience,” Lodge said.
“I grew up supporting the Blues so that’s a goal (Origin debut) but at the moment I just want the Broncos to go well.
“I am just happy we (NSW) won this year, especially living up here.”
Lodge hopes fellow Brisbane forward Tevita Pangai Junior joins him in Blues colours in 2019.
Tonga international Pangai – who is poised to re-sign with Brisbane – recently pledged his allegiance to NSW to be available for the 2019 Origin series.
“We all know what Tevita brings. Tevita can be a freak,” Lodge said.
“It would be a huge boost if he could get into that Blues team.”