Matt Lodge has been handed the first ban of the NRL season.
The controversial Brisbane Broncos forward has been offered two games for his late tackle on Melbourne Storm’s Cameron Munster.
Lodge took out Munster’s legs in the Broncos’ 22-12 defeat to Melbourne at AAMI Park on Thursday night.
He was penalised but not placed on report by the referees, with the NRL match review committee laying the grade-two dangerous contact charge on Friday.
With prior non-similar offences, Lodge’s sanction carries 280 demerit points – meaning he will miss two matches regardless of whether he pleads guilty or fights the charge at the judiciary and loses.
BREAKING: Matt Lodge faces two weeks suspension for attacking kickers legs, even with early plea. Grade two dangerous contact.
— Chris Garry (@ChrisGarry7) March 15, 2019
“We see plenty of penalties in the game where the player makes contact, that was one of the dangerous ones,” Fox Sports commentator Greg Alexander said at the time.
“That’s why the rule was brought in to protect players in that sort of situation. Both legs in the air and hit with some force.”
The suspension for games against North Queensland and St George Illawarra would be a harsh blow for new coach Anthony Seibold, who also looks set to be without speedster James Roberts due to a back injury suffered early in the defeat.
Brisbane are already without up-and-coming forward Payne Haas, serving an off-field suspension until round five, while fellow middle man Tevita Pangai Junior is struggling with a hamstring injury and limited to coming off the bench.
While they were down 10-0 at half-time and fell short despite two second-half tries through Corey Oates, Seibold said his team’s performance was a “benchmark for effort”.
“We showed a lot of resilience and grit,” said Seibold, who replaced Wayne Bennett.
“One thing we learnt was that that was a benchmark for effort. The effort was extremely high to get ourselves back in the game.”
He said the Broncos didn’t match the Storm in field position and possession, with the ineffective kicking game of halves Kodi Nikorima and Anthony Milford not helping.
Roberts was forced off after just five minutes with a back injury but a highlight for the Broncos was the return of Matt Gillett, who hadn’t played since fracturing his neck in round five last season.
Playing at lock rather than his usual position on the edge, Gillett got through a mountain of work clocking up 50 tackles.
“He had a pretty good shift. He worked his backside off against a pretty fair forward pack,” Seibold said.
The coach felt that overall it was good starting point for his team against last year’s NRL runners-up.
“I’m under no illusions about the challenge in front of us,” he said.
“We’re looking to take small steps and I felt we showed a lot of resilience and grit to hang in there for a pretty tough old battle.”