FOG says Matt Lodge is captaincy material
Redcliffe Dolphins rugby league coach Adam Mogg believes Broncos front row prime mover Matt Lodge was NRL captaincy material despite the lingering memory of a violent 2015 off-season indiscretion.
Mogg's high praise for Lodge comes at a time when the Redcliffe-Broncos link has never been stronger after local junior Tyson Gamble joined Kotoni Staggs, Jake Turpin, Jamil Hopoate and Lodge on the Broncos books for season 2020.
During the off-season Lodge's name was mentioned as a potential Brisbane captain less than two years after Lodge reached a confidential settlement compensating victims over his drunken rampage in New York in 2015.
The 2019-20 off-season leadership speculation shocked some at the time, but not Mogg whose club was Lodge's first port of call when he was seeking redemption from the rugby league community.
"The first thing you notice when you meet him about his chequered past is that he owns it.
"That was something my boss and the chairman really respected,'' Mogg said.
Mogg said after observing Lodge on and off the field prior to him earning a Broncos' contract, he had no doubt that Lodge was "captaincy material''. "Everyone makes mistakes. He is the first kid to put his hand up and say he did the wrong thing. I can see him being a captain of an NRL team in the future.''
Lodge, whose 2019 form warranted consideration for New South Wales State of Origin selection, also had his best football in front of him, according to Mogg.
"We knew he had talent and I don't think we have seen the best of him on the rugby league field and that is very exciting for the Broncos,'' Mogg said.
The form of Lodge and the discovery of Staggs and Turpin were among the high points of the Broncos mixed 2019 season.
Staggs was such a revelation that he would not be out of place in a Blues jumper while Turpin has zoomed into contention to be the Queensland dummy half later in the year.
Mogg said Turpin was tough, determined and someone teammates loved playing beside.
"Players love to play with him,'' Mogg said of the Redcliffe premiership winning player.
"He is not the biggest bloke, but one of toughest and bravest.
"You can see that when he plays with Broncos. He is great to coach and brings so much energy to his footie.
"If he keeps working hard he will have a long, successful NRL career which is what this competition (the Intrust Super Cup) is all about.''
But as impressive as Turpin was during his NRL break through season of 2019, Staggs was the absolute standout newcomers.
Mogg had the explosive Staggs under his care for the entire 2018 season and could not have been more impressed with the utility.
"Full credit to Peter Nolan (Broncos recruitment ace) for keeping him at the Broncos, but I don't know anyone knew how good he was,'' Mogg said.
Mogg said in his first game for the Dolphins as a backrower he received the players' player award.
"We then had some injuries so I moved him to right centre. He was clearly the best centre in the competition (in 2018) and clearly the best right centre we have seen in the competition for a while.
"He is a really good kid who works hard. I did not have to coach him. I just gave him a jersey and let him play.''
The most recent success story out of the Dolphins-Broncos association has been Jamil Hopoate who, in the absence of David Fifita (injured) and Tevita Pangai Junior (suspended) has been playing edge backrow for Brisbane.
Unlike Turpin and Staggs, Hopoate was recruited by Redcliffe and then picked up by Brisbane.
"He came to us from Sydney looking for an opportunity,'' Mogg explained.
"He was in trouble as a younger kid but he was faultless around the footie club and great to have around the team
"Full credit to Jamil and the Broncos. They put a fair bit of work into him to get him into a position to play backrow in the NRL.
"He just worked really hard. It (NRL selection) is on the back of a lot of really hard work,'' Mogg said of Hopoate, who was the Intrust Super Cup lock of the year in 2018.
Also inching his way toward NRL recognition with Brisbane is Redcliffe junior Tyson Gamble who has returned to the Dolphins after making his NRL debut with Wests Tigers and subsequently been picked up by the Broncos.
"I am a big fan. That is no secret in our footie club,'' Mogg said.
"He is a really good kid, hard working, he has some real qualities and I'd love to see him get an opportunity to play NRL. With a few games he would build some confidence.
"He is very competitive. He is just a really good kid and good defender for a five-eight who understands the game well and has a good long kicking game.''
Two other players who have passed through the Redcliffe system, Jonus Pearson and Toby Rudolf, were also in the NRL.
Pearson is in the Gold Coast Titans' first grade side and looking to establish himself after stints with the Broncos and the Dragons.
Mogg said the key to Pearson establishing himself was confidence.
"He needs to spend a considerable amount of time on the NRL field so he feels comfortable,'' Mogg said. "He has got some wheels, got some speed.''
Prop forward Rudolf has played in three matches NRL games for the Cronulla Sharks this season.
Mogg said the club's affiliation with the Broncos was good for the Dolphins and the competition.
"The beauty for Queensland Cup clubs is they get the advantage of having those players come and play for the club. You are getting very good talent for free.''
Originally published as FOG says Matt Lodge is captaincy material