Just over a week removed from Matt Lodge making a sudden dash for the exit gates at the New Zealand Warriors, and with two losses in between, coach Nathan Brown has taken full responsibility for the ugly situation.
The Warriors, who signed Lodge on an immediate mid-season transfer from the Brisbane Broncos during the 2021 season, saw the prop play just 14 games before departing.
It had been widely reported Lodge had knocked back a contract offer from the club to keep him as the club prepare for a move back to Auckland in the 2023 season.
Lodge, who had a player option to remain with the Warriors for 2023, was bought out of the remainder of his contract by club owner Mark Robinson however, who told The Daily Telegraph during the week that Lodge wasn't happy, with the duo having an altercation in a pub late last year which was never recovered from.
The Warriors have lost two games on the trot - against the St George Illawarra Dragons last week and the Newcastle Knights last week - since Lodge left the club, not helped by injury to another key prop in Addin Fonua-Blake.
It has left the club with just four wins from 12 games, and despite Robinson's revelation during the week, Brown used his post-match press conference yesterday to say it was his fault.
“When you recruit a player and it doesn’t work out as in Lodgey’s case it’s no one’s fault but the head coach,” Brown said.
“I brought Lodgey here to the club and it didn’t work out so that’s on me. It’s not on the owner, it’s not on Lodgey, it’s not on anyone. It’s on me.
“If you’ve got a bloke moving out of the club that you brought to the club, you’ve done something wrong — it’s no one else’s fault but the head coach.
“If you move players that you didn't bring to the club, that ain’t your fault because you’re doing your job to help the club get better.
“So I take full responsibility for the Lodgey situation.
“I brought Matt to the club and it didn’t work out so the full responsibility should land on me — not anyone else.”
Despite being released, Lodge, who has reportedly bought a house in Sydney, is yet to link up with a new club for the remainder of the 2022 season.
It's unclear if any other club has the desire to bring Lodge on board immediately.
The Warriors, meanwhile, will play the Manly Sea Eagles next week, before taking on the Cronulla Sharks and Penrith Panthers in a difficult three-week stretch which has the potential to put them all but out of the finals picture before they return to Auckland for the first time to face the Wests Tigers in Round 16.