Lodge was fined $5000 for the rude gesture, but if these situations keep happening it can safely be assumed it will continue to impact their hopes for a finals berth.
The quest for the NRL's only New Zealand team to win their maiden premiership title has hit a snag this season. The team only put together eight wins and lost a further 16 giving them just a 50 per cent win rate. They struggled greatly this year and could not string together enough chances to win games.
The issues across the Tasman may lie with the players and some of their bad judgment calls. The two key suspects are props Kane Evans and of course Matt Lodge. They have not been able to control their temper on-field and as a result, hurt their team by getting suspended. These blatant acts highlight the need for cultural change.
Lodge has spent plenty of time suspended since his arrival at the club, while Evans has been suspended for punching for the second time this season after his Sunday hit on Jarrod Wallace, which was preceded by an earlier incident with Will Chambers.
The need to get players that fail to buy in onside is so important, as the team has so much potential with their young core. Reece Walsh leads the young Warriors players and needs to have older players setting a high standard for them.
The next generation must be taught how to carry themselves on and off the field and if they aren't led properly they may not be able to fuel a successful rebuild.
The little time that Phil Gould spent at the club hopefully gave the organisation the skills to set a positive culture. Gould created a winning culture at the Penrith Panthers and could have given his expertise to the Warriors, which will help with their rebuild.
If so, there needs to be a strong response to poor on-field discipline which players like Evans and Lodge have fallen foul of. If it continues to impact the development of the club, then questions must be asked about whether they should remain with the Warriors.
Former Warriors' coach Brian McClennan said as much during the week on SENZ Radio, indicating Evans should be shown the door.
“For me, they’ve got to get rid of him,” the 2012 Warriors coach claimed.
“Just not good enough, twice in a row now he’s thrown punches and hasn’t even caused a bruise. For me he’s got to go.”
As shown with others teams in the NRL, players with a recruitment risk can change and become the best versions of themselves. But normally good team culture is the reason why players turn their career around and move on from their past.
The New Zealand Warriors need to address there ill-discipline and hold those players to account. This will fast track their rise up the ladder and support their exciting young core.