Gallen posts statement on Matt Lodge

Paul Gallen’s opinion of Matt Lodge is ‘greatly lowered’.
Paul Gallen’s opinion of Matt Lodge is ‘greatly lowered’.

PAUL Gallen has clarified his comments on Matt Lodge after backing the NRL's decision to give the Brisbane Broncos forward the green light to return this season.

Debate has once again flared about whether the 22-year-old should be allowed back in the NRL after CCTV footage of his New York City rampage emerged on Friday.

The NRL is standing firm after Lodge spent last year in Queensland Cup and made a number of changes in his life including swearing off alcohol.

Gallen took a similar stance at a press conference at Cronulla on Sunday. "If he's served his time and done everything required of him, how long do we keep punishing him for? I don't know," Gallen said. "We've let blokes back in the game who have touched women - or hit women - I wouldn't put him in that class. We got blokes like that still playing so let's just move on."

The victims of Lodge's October 2015 attack, Joseph Cartright and Ruth Fowler, argue he has yet to express remorse or attempt to pay the $1.6 million ordered by a US civil court.

News Corp on Saturday published a letter penned by Lodge to his victims which was meant to be delivered via a New York district lawyer.

After learning more about Lodge's case, Gallen recorded a statement and posted a video to his Instagram account.

"Hey everyone, I'm here to talk about a media day we had today at the Sharks. The Matt Lodge subject came up to myself, and while I'm not rebutting any of comments that if Matt passes all requirements by the NRL to be allowed back into the game then he should be allowed to play ... hopefully he's made to pay the compensation to his victims," Gallen said.

"I've since found out more about this story. I don't follow stories about rugby league players too much. But I've found out about this one and another one of my comments were that 'the NRL let back blokes who hit and touch women into the game and Matt is not in this boat'.

Matthew Lodge.
Matthew Lodge.

"Well I've since found out more about the story and found out that Matt actually threatened a woman, which in my books is bad enough. So my opinion of Matt and this whole situation has greatly lowered and while I admit I'm no angel, I've done things on the drink I'm not proud of, but violence against women is not one of them - whether it be threatening or physical that's just a no-go in my books. And that's all I have to say about this."

It comes after Brisbane skipper Darius Boyd declared Lodge is a NSW player-in-waiting as the controversial prop prepares to get his life and NRL career back on track.

Boyd was wary of putting pressure on the former Wests Tigers forward as he prepared to play his first game in 984 days when he runs out for the Broncos' season opener against St George Illawarra on Thursday.

However he said Lodge, despite having just 12 games experience, had the capacity to break into the State of Origin arena.

"I definitely believe, without putting too much pressure on him, he's got the attributes and capabilities to play Origin," Boyd told AAP.

 

 

"At the end of the day, it comes down to your on-field performances. We're not expecting massive things from him early, he's only played a handful of games and hasn't played in the NRL for a while. I'm looking forward to playing behind him."

Boyd has endured a public battle with off-field issues including depression during his career and he argued Lodge similarly deserved a second chance to evolve and better himself.

"I've known him for about a year, but all I've known of him is that he's very humble, he speaks well, he cares, he's a team player, and he's fit in really well," Boyd said.

"We all makes mistakes and he's got a second chance and it's his opportunity to take it now.

"From what I've seen, he's done everything asked of him and more."

- with AAP