Lodge cleared for remarkable return for Broncos
The Broncos have received a huge boost for their NRL season relaunch with chief enforcer Matt Lodge set to be cleared for Thursday night's blockbuster against Parramatta.
And in another fillip for the Broncos, Queensland Origin sensation David Fifita had his knee brace removed today, with the back-row wrecking ball ready to ramp up his rehabilitation for an NRL comeback.
Broncos coach Anthony Seibold confirmed Lodge only has to get through Wednesday's training session at Red Hill to get the green light for a showdown with the Eels' monster pack at Suncorp Stadium.
Lodge suffered a partial ACL tear on the eve of Round 1 in March and there were fears he would be wiped out for the season, but the Broncos prop has worked overtime to ensure his damaged right knee is 100 per cent.
Lodge was named on Brisbane's extended bench on Tuesday but Seibold is confident the Broncos' most senior bookend will be added to his top 17 to face the Eels side that inflicted a 58-0 finals mauling last year.
"I'd expect him to play," Seibold said.
"We'll name him in the No.21 (jumper) but if he gets through training he will be in the 17, we will have a look at who we drop off the bench.
"Lodgey pulled up well from training on Sunday. We're not trying to play any games, if Lodgey gets through today he will play. We expect him to get through today without any issues."
Seibold lauded the work ethic of Lodge, who turned to Chinese medicine with acupuncture and even set up a $10,000 gym in his home to rehab his knee and avoid season-ending surgery.
"It shows a lot of determination by Lodgey," he said.
"He has had to show some resilience. He has had this partial tear in his knee since 2015. He has shown a lot of character to rehab it, it has been frustrating for him at times in regards to having such a good pre-season.
"It's really good for us, we have a bit of a plan for how many minutes Lodgey will play. He's a leader in our group. He has felt a bit isolated, you have to do your rehab with the smaller group but since coming to the group he has made an impact with what he does. He is a physical player and that's why we like him. He has to get through one more session but I expect him to do that without any dramas.
"Lodgey has a job to do off the bench on Thursday night and we expect him to play. It's been good for our group."
Seibold, meanwhile, revealed Fifita is also on track for a return sometime in June in a boost for Brisbane's back row stocks.
"Dave gets the knee brace off today," he said.
"I saw him this morning, he has got a haircut, he is about to get the brace off so he is feeling a bit better.
"He will be slowly, slowly. We have 18 games to go and we want to be there in the finals so we have a fair bit of footy ahead for David.
"He's at least another four to five weeks away.
"If he gets his rehab right, he will play plenty of footy, I saw him from a distance this morning and he looks happy. When Dave is happy it's a good thing, he can see light at the end of tunnel. Having the brace on it's been a pretty tough period for him."
In other team news, Joe Ofahengaue will play his first game of 2020 off the bench after serving a two-game suspension to start the year.
Originally published as Lodge cleared for remarkable return