Matt Lodge says he was tempted to return to his western Sydney stomping ground when the Eels tried to lure him away earlier this year but has no regrets about his ultimate decision to re-sign with the Broncos until 2022.
The 24-year-old prop grew up in the Blacktown area and owns a house where his family stills lives so when Parramatta came knocking on his door he had a difficult decision to make.
The Warriors also were keen but the Eels' interest had appeal for several reasons.
"It was tempting because it is five minutes from my house and where Mum and Dad and all my family live so it was a tough decision," Lodge told NRL.com ahead of the clash with the Eels at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
"They have got a good pack and it was close to home but I love the Broncos from my heart and I wanted to stay here.
"I have a lot of passion for the club and I want to see us do well. I am willing to sacrifice being away from my family and home to try and get some success here."
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The success Lodge craves at the Broncos has been enhanced by his partnership up front with 19-year-old prop Payne Haas. The duo want to be mentioned in the same breath as Brisbane’s premiership winning front-rowers but Lodge knows that will only come on the back of success.
"It has been awesome playing with Payne. We trained together a lot in the pre-season and he helps me get the best out of myself because he is such a competitor and hard trainer," Lodge said.
"Hopefully we can really build something special and into the future. We are a good team. We get on really well off the field and I think it will transfer on the field more and more as well play together some more.”
Haas said he felt the same way about his front-row partner.
“When I look to my left I see when big Lodgey does a big run and I want to go straight after him. It revs me up,” Haas said.
"It is a good one-two punch combo. He is full-on and one of the best I’ve played with."
The clash with Parramatta brings back fond memories for Lodge from his youth when he was coming through the junior ranks with the Penrith Panthers.
"I was a Panther and they were arch rivals and I played them a fair bit when I was young and it was always a good battle … the battle of the west," Lodge said.
"I won a grand final in the under 16s over Parra in the Harold Matthews (Cup) when Mitch Moses was playing for them."
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Lodge said minimising the impact of Moses would be a key to success on Friday night.
"Mitch has been unbelievable this year. He’s put his head down and done the work and he is getting the results from it,” Lodge said.
"I always knew that he was a really good half and he is showing everyone just how good he is."
A memory of playing the Eels that is not so fond for Lodge is the 38-10 loss in round 14 this year where Parramatta led 26-nil at half-time. With a finals position on the line for the eighth placed Broncos, Lodge said taking every half-chance would be vital on Friday night.
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"They gave us a bit of a touch-up down there a few months ago in Sydney. We had a terrible start and I think we had nine or 10 going into rep camp that week and it was just a write-off,” Lodge said.
"We need to put our head down at training this week and it will be a different outcome. We need to put in a good performance at Suncorp. We were unlucky against Souths last week but we had our chances. We have to take them against Parra.
"They are in great form. I have sat on my lounge a few times and watched some of their games and they are throwing the ball around, offloading and playing some really unpredictable footy. Everyone wants to play finals footy but if we can’t put in good performances these next two games we probably don’t deserve to be there."