The Daily Telegraph’s Buzz Rothfield has made the bold prediction Roosters front rower Matt Lodge could be included in Mal Meninga’s Kangaroos squad for the World Cup.
After making a mid-season switch to the Roosters, Lodge has been excellent under Trent Robinson — averaging 110 running metres per game and recording two tries.
Rothfield believes his performances warrant a call-up for October’s World Cup, and with a strong finals charge, the Roosters big-man could be on a plane to England.
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“If the Roosters go deep into the finals, I think he is an outside chance of going to the World Cup to play for Australia,” Rothfield said on NRL360.
“Why I think that is… Australia don’t have front rowers.”
“They have got a whole finals series for front rowers to put their hand up, it is fair to say what you are saying, that he is an outside chance, I personally don’t think Mal will pick him,” NRL360 co-host Paul Kent said.
“I think Mal is very big on team dynamic.”
Rothfield went on to explain that the Kangaroos are short of front rowers, with some of the NRL’s best big men plying their trade for other nations.
James Fisher-Harris and Joseph Tapine represent New Zealand, while Addin Fonua-Blake plays for Tonga, an Josh Papalii Samoa.
But, both Kent and The Australian’s Brent Read provided a number of representative options for Meninga to pick from.
“But he mightn’t have a choice Kenty, Australia is really short for front rowers,” Rothfield said.
“You have got Linday Collins there, Jake Trbojevic,” Kent said.
“Lindsay Collins has been getting knocked out every week,” Rothfield said.
“Jordan McLean, Reuben Cotter is playing as a front rower up in North Queensland, Pat Carrigan,” Read said.
Meanwhile, Lodge is reportedly “desperate” to remain in the Eastern suburbs and could be ready to take a cut-price deal after receiving a hefty pay packet this season.
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The 27-year-old was paid out by the Warriors to exit early, whilst the Broncos were also chipping in on his salary.
Add in the notional wage that was agreed upon for him to make the mid-season switch, and Kent believes Lodge may have earned a pay-rise.
“I think Matt is desperate to stay, and the good news for Matt is they put a notional value on him for this year, I think it was about $18,000-per-game,” Read said.
“There won’t be one put on him next year, which helps the Roosters keep him, because Lodge, as long as the contract isn’t a ‘take the mickey contract’ then the NRL will register it.
“Matt is loving life, you can see how well he is playing.”
“He was paid out in full next year by the Warriors, but he is no longer paid by the Broncos next year,” Kent said.
“He has got three clubs paying his wage this year, then the NRL insists they have a notional value on him, so he has actually got a pay-rise.”
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