NRL 2021: NZ Warriors close to signing controversial prop Matt Lodge

After missing out last year, NZ Warriors are close to signing controversial Brisbane Broncos prop Matt Lodge to a three-year deal. 

According to Wide World of Sports, Lodge is close to signing a multimillion-dollar deal with the Warriors, which would make him one of the highest-paid players at the club. 

Lodge is reportedly on nearly A$1 million a season at the Broncos and is expected to get a pay rise, if he signs with the Warriors. 

The Warriors have chased Lodge for some time, with the prop snubbing an offer from the Auckland-based NRL side to re-sign with the Broncos just last year until the end of 2022. 

But much has changed in Brisbane after their worst season ever, which saw them claim the wooden spoon, while Kevin Walters has come in as coach, replacing Anthony Seibold. 

Under Walters, the Broncos are rebuilding and clearing Lodge's huge wage off the books could help ease pressure on their salary cap. 

The report adds that new Warriors coach Nathan Brown sees Lodge as a forward leader and could fill the void left by Adam Blair, who retired after the 2020 season.

The Warriors have props Addin Fonua-Blake, Kane Evans, Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Leeson Ah Mau and Bunty Afoa on contract for next season, although the latter has been given permission to negotiate with other clubs. 

Earlier this month, the Warriors released Agnatius Passi from his contract to join English side St Helens.

Lodge, 25, has played 65 NRL games, but he spent two years out of the game for a common-assault conviction in the United States for a 2015 New York incident.

Warriors recruitment manager Peter O'Sullivan is his father-in-law.

On Thursday, the NRL released the 2021 schedule, which sees the Warriors play 11 games in Auckland. but a travel bubble that doesn't require isolation would need to be in place for games to be played in New Zealand.