Not wanting to move to New Zealand wasn’t the only reason Matt Lodge and the Warriors sought to part ways, with the club’s CEO confirming simmering tensions between Lodge and club owner Mark Robinson were also a big factor.
Warriors CEO Cameron George faced the media via zoom this afternoon following reports Lodge has been paid $700,000 in his early-release settlement from the club. The news has angered fans who can’t understand why the deal was done.
George would not confirm the amount saying: “The conditions and terms of any settlement contract negotiations for staff or players will remain confidential – that’s only fair on both the organisation and the person that we’re dealing with and obviously their family and in particular the other players and staff.
“We will not confirm a number. All I can say is that the settlement was agreed upon and it’s something that we’re very comfortable with and it sits well within our salary cap over the next season and a half.”
He said the settlement would come off the club’s salary cap as did any settlement with a player who had an early release. They agreed to terms that took account of his service to the club and its contractual obligations.
“In fact, all the release documentation goes through the NRL for it to be effected,” he said.
George said Matt and club owner Mark Robinson had a “stern” discussion in December, which they spoke about a few days later but had since simmered below the surface.
“Those things happen in environments such as this when it’s high performance and expectations are high, but that’s life. It happens in a lot of workplaces,” he said.
When pressed on the nature of the disagreement and its severity, he would not elaborate but said it was “simmering” and it was in the best interests of the club and Lodge to part ways.
“Maybe he didn’t want to play for Mark Robinson anymore. Mark has to accept that – not every player does, not every player will in the future either,” he said.
“We just sensibly sat down and worked out a way forward and that’s where we landed. Matt’s really happy and I’m really happy and I’m happy because Matt’s happy.
“We need everything going our way and if someone’s not entirely happy, we sit down and work out a way forward.
“There’s nothing more to it. If you boil it down, you’ve got two guys had an argument and it kept simmering along underneath and we came up with a solution.”
“No, not at all. Matt offered us a lot during his time here (I) absolutely do not regret signing Matt,” he said.
George said he was able to get to know Matt well and said he and his family were “wonderful people”.
With the departure of Kodi Nikorima, Matt Lodge and Chanel Harris-Tavita next season, is there a culture problem? What’s going on?
“Everyone has a different situation. Kodi Nikorima wasn’t with the club next year, that was known to both parties, Matt Lodge obviously has his circumstances and was released and Chanel … I think we should be praising Chanel rather than pointing in the direction of the club. Here we have a 23-year-old who made a very mature decision in the best interests of himself and his family. I think that’s incredibly brave and I think he deserves a lot of credit.”
George pointed out there are a number of quality players coming into the side next year which the club was very excited about and he was not concerned the Lodge settlement would have a detrimental impact on the salary cap for 2023.
He said there were only a couple of spots to fill next year and the club had already budgeted for those.
“We’re OK with where we’re at. Obviously, if we were that tight, we couldn’t have done what we’ve done,” he said.
“The cap itself, we’re in a really strong position in that regard.”
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