Fifita had such a rap on his “little brother” he happily backed him to be David Klemmer’s starting front-row partner for the NSW Origin team this year.
“I pepper him about coming back all the time, we were together on the weekend and I talked to him about it,” Fifita said. “But ‘Lodgey’ loves where he is at at the moment, he’s their number one prop and feels comfortable there.
“He said he doesn’t know where [the talk] is coming from. He said it could be how he’s coming off contract or there are clauses in his contract [in his favour].
“But I’d love him here. He’s like a brother to me. We’ve been through thick and thin.
“[Brother] Dave has gone now, so I’ve got my other ‘little brother’. He keeps coming up to me and telling me how he’s beaten me three times now, but I always remind him, ‘whose grand final did you come and watch, and who scores tries?’.”
Brisbane have Tevita Pangai Junior off contract at the end of the season and would no doubt fast-track any negotiations if Lodge made it clear he was keen to return south.
The Sharks will farewell their own workhorse Paul Gallen at the end of the season and would welcome a big body like Lodge.
As for Lodge forcing his way into the NSW Origin team, Fifita said of Lodge: “The form he is in and his professionalism off the field, I know he wouldn’t let anybody down.
“With Payne Haas and Tevita, they’re going well, but Lodge stands out for me. The other two have flair and attack and go hard, then Lodge brings that grit to their defence.
“He’s like our Matty Prior. Do I think Matt Lodge is ready? I think he’s definitely ready.
“He bleeds for the Blues and the Aussies. Given a chance he wouldn’t let anybody down.
“He gave it to all of us in his comeback game [last Saturday week]. He makes a big difference to that Brisbane team when he’s in there.
“I’d start with ‘Klem’ [David Klemmer], he’s one of those players you have to have in your team – he’s your enforcer – but I’d put ‘Lodgey’ there starting next to him. He can be that defensive prop, and it’s a bit like me and Matty Prior with one attacking prop and one defending.”
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.