Matt Lodge has been granted an immediate release from the New Zealand Warriors after admitting he couldn’t commit to the club.
“Matt told us a while ago that for professional and personal reasons he couldn’t commit to a long-term future in New Zealand when we return home for next season,” Warriors CEO Cameron George said in a statement.
“The opportunity for him to leave now allows us to move forward with our future planning and to develop our younger players.
“We’re grateful to Matt for the contribution he has made since joining us last year and wish him and his family all the best for the future.”
The 26-year-old joined the Warriors from the Broncos in July last year.
“I couldn’t see my family living in New Zealand for a long-term future,” said Lodge.
“Therefore we decided that the best thing for the club was for us to mutually part ways so they have some clarity.
“I respect the club and especially the boys a lot and hopefully I showed that by the way I trained and played physical and gave my all every game.”
Lodge’s 14th and final appearance for th Warriors was against South Sydney last Saturday.
There’s no doubt other clubs already in talks with Lodge on where he’ll play next.
Newcastle centre Bradman Best is looking at a couple of months on the sidelines after suffering a gruesome elbow dislocation in Thursday night’s loss to Brisbane.
Best reeled out of a second half collision with Broncos five-eighth Tyson Gamble when he was trying to set up winger Edrick Lee for a try and the replays showed he had dislocated his elbow.
“It doesn’t look good, his pain threshold is unbelievable, so to see him the way he was (was concerning),” Knights coach Adam O’Brien said.
He will have scans and further assessment to the injur on Friday before the Knights announce a definitive timeline or his return but it’s likely he will miss at least six weeks.
It is the latest in a string of injury blows to hit Newcastle who have struggled to put their best team on the field all season.
After copping a 36-12 hiding on home turf against Brisbane, they have a week to regroup before they face the Warriors in Redcliffe next Saturday.
While the Knights would have felt hard done by on a few calls which resulted in a blowout scoreline, captain Kalyn Ponga was confident that mid-season recruit Anthony Milford could build on the glimpses he showed in his Newcastle debut.
“I thought he had some quality touches. He’s pretty quiet in nature in and around the joint, but on the field he’s quite vocal,” he said.
“I think he’s only going to grow as well with the team.
“He’ll start to get more confident which is what we need from him. It was awesome to be out there with him to be honest. As a player and as a fan of Milford, it was pretty cool.”
Milford looked like he was carrying extra weight after not playing since last September but O’Brien said he was impressed with his condition to last the full 80 minutes.
“I don’t think it looked his first game in a long time,” he said. “He had some really good touches early and I was like: ‘Oh, hang on, this is going to be a fun night’.
“I think there were a few things he would like back in the second half, as (do the rest of) us as a team.”
Channel 9’s legendary commentator Ray Warren could bring up his 100th State of Origin call on June 8 but “Rabbits” is unsure whether he will return for the series opener at Accor Stadium.
The 78-year-old voice of rugbyleague, who is in semi-retirement and has not called any NRL matches this year, met during the week with Nine’s sports director, Brent Williams, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report, but has given no clear indication of whether he will return to the commentary box.
Warren is concerned that he won’t be able to maintain his usual standards if he’s coming back cold after such a lengthy layoff and could return to NRL action beforehand to get back up to speed.
Mat Thompson has replaced Warren as Nine’s main Sydney-based caller and would assume the duties for Origin if “Rabbs” decides against a return.
Brisbane are hopeful halfback Adam Reynolds will be back on deck for next week’s Queensland derby with the Gold Coast Titans.
Reynolds, who has played a key part in the Broncos’ surge into NRL’s top eight, failed a fitness test on his groin on Thursday and withdrew from Brisbane’s 36-12 win over Newcastle.
That’s despite coach Kevin Walters saying on Wednesday that Reynolds had assured him of his fitness and that he would be “very surprised” if he didn’t play.
Brisbane took a cautious approach, with Walters opting for Ezra Mam to debut alongside Tyson Gamble in the halves.
After the win over the Knights, Walters was upbeat that their star recruit will be primed to return against the Titans at Suncorp Stadium next Friday.
“We believe he’ll be back next week.” Walters said.
“Obviously if he’s not ready to go, we’ll rest him but I believe he will be ready to go next week.”