Lodge one step closer to return
INJURED Brisbane prop Matt Lodge's hopes of taking on the Eels have received a boost after another solid hitout at Broncos training on Sunday.
Broncos forward teammate Joe Ofahengaue is confident Lodge will play after Brisbane's chief enforcer ramped up preparations in the build-up to the NRL's season relaunch against Parramatta this Thursday night.
Lodge suffered a partial ACL tear in March and a Brisbane knee specialist cleared him of surgery a fortnight ago, insisting the Broncos prop is not at greater risk of injury when he returns to the field.
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The Broncos spearhead survived an intense session, put through his paces in the playing group's 13-on-13 game simulation, running around for both the Renegades side and the top squad.
Lodge has been moving well on his injured right knee in recent weeks and was spotted speaking with coach Anthony Seibold after the two-hour training run at Red Hill.
Seibold will make a final call on Tuesday, but club medicos were pleased with how Lodge pulled up after Sunday's session.
Should Lodge receive the green light, he is likely to return off the bench, with Payne Haas and Tom Flegler both outstanding as starting props in Brisbane's 22-18 defeat of Souths in round two.
Ofahengaue, who will return to Brisbane's top 17 after missing the first two games due to an NRL suspension, said Lodge took another step towards facing the Eels at Suncorp Stadium.
"He trained pretty well," Ofahengaue said.
"He bumped a couple of players off and made his presence felt.
"It feels like he's ready to go but it's up to the physio and coach and Lodgey to make that decision when it comes.
"Hopefully he will be there with us, if not, hopefully he will be there the following round."
Lodge said a fortnight ago he would almost certainly return for their Round 4 clash, against the Roosters at Suncorp, if he misses the NRL's season relaunch.
"I feel great and I feel confident that I've done the right thing avoiding surgery," he said.
"I have no pain in the knee, I've been working hard on my rehab to train the muscles around it to get that strength and agility back.
"There's no point rushing my return. I'm pushing for Round 3, I'm pretty much doing everything required. At worst I might come back in Round 4 or 5, but I'm just relieved that my season isn't over."