Warriors recruit Matt Lodge says his exit from the Broncos was months in the making while adding he has no ill-feeling towards Kevin Walters despite the pair not having a strong relationship.
Lodge fronted a packed media call via Zoom on Monday to discuss his exit at the Broncos, insisting his final conversation with Walters was amicable after months of speculation regarding his future.
The 26-year-old said he was informed he should look elsewhere by Walters as early as last year when he took over at Red Hill and following a difficult 2020 campaign for the club.
Lodge sold his house earlier this year in preparation for a departure but became frustrated when Broncos management informed him of their intentions to keep him.
The final straw came for Lodge last week during the club's recent bye period when his manager phoned to inform him of the Broncos' decision to release him early.
"At that point it changed so many times my mind needed a new start and I just took it with both hands," Lodge said.
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"It's been a weird one. I was looking to leave before pre-season and they changed their minds a few times.
"I was staying, then going, then staying. It was hard to communicate with other clubs until I got a payout figure and permission to do so.
"Last year I didn't have the best year through major injuries. Once I got back on the field it changed a little bit but eventually we came to the conclusion it was the best thing to do."
Walters defended his handling of the Lodge situation on Saturday, denying any talk of sending mixed messages to the former Bronco.
Lodge said while their relationship wasn't the strongest given its infancy, they left it on a good note.
"He didn't do anything wrong by me and I'd like to think the same," he said.
"It's a hard role in his position to tap players on the shoulder and move them on.
"I'd like to think I handled that well and I was still helping around the place and doing my part on the field.
"It was good to leave in that aspect and the respect was still there.
"The club had done a lot for me and although I didn't know Kevvie too well and hadn't been with him too long I'm sure he'd say we left on good terms with each other."
Lodge's move to the Warriors and Nathan Brown was a couple of years in the making.
He had the chance to link with the Knights under Brown in 2019, while the Warriors also chased him with a big-money offer when recruitment manager and future father-in-law Peter O'Sullivan joined the club in the same year.
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He knocked back both offers to remain at Brisbane before O'Sullivan finally got his man on Thursday.
"With the Broncos paying a fair bit of my salary I get to come here with not a whole heap of pressure on me and get to slot in on a reasonable wage and do my job," Lodge said.
"It feels a lot more comfortable than coming here as family on the big kind of dollars.
"I just want to slot in and earn respect from everyone I play with here.
"The owner Mark [Robinson], CEO [Cameron George] and all that have been in communication. That was a big reason why I came, they were supportive.
"Nathan has been a good communicator with me and wants me here. I know he's keen to get his hands on me and change a few things in my game and make me a bit technical better.
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"It's good to have someone with that kind of knowledge. I look forward to working with him."
While Lodge is happy with the support, he's wary that some Warriors fans may not be impressed with his signing after a chequered past.
"I'm used to that by now," Lodge replied.
"I don't think there's a club in the competition where I'd sign and someone wouldn't kick up a stink about it.
"It is what it is, there's going to be those people everywhere. My apologies to them but I'm not going to stop my career or hold back because of opinions.
"Hopefully my performances can help them overlook that and do well for the club. The only way to make them happy is to carry the ball hard and get some wins.
"If we start doing that I'm sure they'll change their tune. It's something I thought I'd never do … play at the Warriors and live in New Zealand.
"When I made the decision it was one of those things where I looked at it as a good life experience and the right time to do it.
"It was a different decision for me. I'm an Aussie kind of guy but I'm looking forward to it."
Lodge could line up against his former teammates at Suncorp Stadium in round 23 with the Warriors scheduled to play the Broncos on August 22.