Fifita said his close friend had been doing a number of things off the field to turn his life around, including volunteering at soup kitchens.
“I just know how hard he has worked, just the little things in the public which no one sees, but us family members see what he does,” he said. “The coaching he does … he travels down from Brisbane to Penrith comp just to run water when he’s home.”
Having stood by Lodge during his return to NRL, as well as his time in rehabilitation, Fitita admitted he “laughed” when he first heard of Lodge’s commitment to sobriety.
“For someone like Matt Lodge to quit drinking … to be honest … I thought he would crack,” he said. “To be given something like [Origin], a game like that, it would mean the world to him.”
Blues coach Brad Fittler last November named Lodge in his 23-man Emerging Blues squad, which has been the launchpad for Origin stars in the past. Fifita is confident Lodge would assist a depleted Blues front row.
“There’s a lot of us out, especially players not in form,” he said. “To be honest if I was a coach I’d be going with in-form players.”