Lodge struggles as Hunt leads Dragons rout
MATT Lodge sure won't forget the shoulder he felt from Tyson Frizell any time soon. Nor the swinging arm he made on James Graham.
Nor the shocking intercept pass he threw to allow Ben Hunt to race almost half the field to score a try for St George Illawarra.
There was so much debate about Lodge and whether he should have been given the chance just to be in the middle of Kogarah on Thursday night.
Shocking footage that emerged this week of him terrorising a young family in New York before being arrested at gun point by police officers back in 2015 was impossible to forget.
The Dragons faithful booed him at every opportunity.
It will continue all year.
Lodge waited 984 days to pull on the bright yellow boots and run out in the NRL again.
The next seven days will not come quick enough for him as he tries to bounce back in front of a more forgiving Suncorp Stadium crowd against North Queensland.
It was not all doom and gloom for the man who has been surrounded by doom and gloom.
He was the only Brisbane forward to run for more than 100m. He's a big unit who will have a dig.
Brisbane might need a few more of them this year to help Anthony Milford cope without Ben Hunt.
"He had to start somewhere,'' coach Wayne Bennett said afterwards.
"He played football tonight, it was his first game back in the NRL for three years, and that's the best thing that's happened to him.''
Bennett took a punt on Lodge for the simple fact he rates him as a footballer.
There was such excitement in some corners about Lodge's ability coming into last night that he could have been a bolter for a NSW Origin jersey.
That won't happen this year at least.
Time will tell if Lodge has been worth all the fuss.
Time will tell if he pays his victims back in the $US1.6 million in compensation as they try to put that horrible night behind them.
"'Lodgey' tried hard, it was his first game, he'll be better for the run,'' skipper Darius Boys said.
The Broncos players made Lodge feel at home. So, too, did some of the Dragons players as they shook hands with Lodge and wished him the best for the remainder of the season.
Some fans will never forgive Lodge.
TV cameras will continue to capture Lodge's blank expression we have seen too often as debate has raged about the merits in allowing him another chance.
The blank look came over his face as Hunt raced down field in the 50th minute, less than a minute after Lodge had come on to the field to replace Josh McGuire.
His first stint lasted 26 minutes and featured seven runs for 61m.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 34 (E Aitken J De Belin T Frizell B Hunt J Nightingale tries G Widdop 7 goals) bt BRISBANE 12 (J Roberts 2 tries J Kahu 2 goals) at UOW Jubilee Oval. Referee: Matt Cecchin, Alan Shortall. Crowd: 14,457.