Matt Lodge is up for grabs after a $700k Warriors split. He can land here

Mystery surrounds Matt Lodge’s next move, but the big name prop is expected to land at a new NRL club before the end of the season.

Lodge was immediately released from his Warriors contract last week.

The club statement claimed the reason behind the call was that the 26-year-old “couldn’t commit to a long-term future in New Zealand if we return home next season.”

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But it has since been revealed that there was also a fallout with Warriors owner Mark Robinson.

There is no real rush for Lodge financially, as the Warriors have paid him in full for the remainder of this season and all of next season – nearly $700,000 in total.

Yet his next move surprised everyone.

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Just four days after its release, Lodge was spotted playing the suburban rugby union game for North Brisbane.

The coach told The Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday that he will get to pick Lodge in Norths first class this week “but he might have an NRL contract tomorrow or Friday… So we’ll see.”

It begs the question, which NRL club Lodge will land with?

We can rule out the Broncos as he was shown the door last July and probably the Knights as well as they’ve already filled their Top 30 – unless they’ve moved someone to make room.

Then 13 NRL clubs remain. It’s hard to see Lodge fit into the Storm system though, the Bulldogs are likely to sit still for now and the Roosters have just upgraded an up and coming forward with a lot of potential.

The Panthers already have plenty of options within their expanded squad, while the Eels are in good shape for now and are reportedly also approaching a young Penrith attacker.

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MANLY SEA EAGLE

The rumor mill ran wild when it was revealed that Lodge and his partner were buying a house in Bayview, on Sydney’s northern beaches. It’s worth noting, though, that the property was purchased in January — four months before his release — and has been leased since February.

Anyway, the link to Manly still seems the strongest

The club still has three selection spots left and the front pack is quite exhausted at the moment.

Taniela Paseka and Morgan Boyle are sidelined indefinitely with knee and ankle injuries respectively, while Hasler turned to train-and-trial player Kurt de Luis to fill his bench this week with Martin Taupau and Ethan Bullemor.

Manly has up-and-coming props Alec Tu’itavake, Jacob Sykes, and Viliami Fifita to lean on, but they don’t have NRL experience — or much reserve-grade experience, for that matter.

There is also the fact that Taupau will not be with the club next season.

DRAGONS

The Dragons have two roster spots to fill and another front rower makes sense.

Veteran props Aaron Woods and George Burgess haven’t really set the world on fire since they joined the club.

Meanwhile, Daniel Alvaro was released mid-season on a Super League deal and it appears Poasa Faamausili has fallen out of favor.

Utility forward Tariq Sims will leave for the Storm next season and 32-year-old Josh McGuire could retire at the end of the season.

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RABBITS

South Sydney have two spots to fill and with Jacob Host out for the season, an extra striker could be a wise move should more injuries strike and coach Jason Demetriou has to shake the loungers.

The Bunnies also need to fill the void that Mark Nicholls will leave behind when he joins the Dolphins next season.

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TIGERS

It would be a roundabout moment for Lodge after his NRL debut for the club in 2014, but after Thomas Mikaele was released to move up to the Super League, the Tigers have a spot for a center forward now and in the future.

James Tamou is unlikely to move beyond this season, the versatile Kelma Tuilagi moves to Manly in 2023 and Joe Ofahengaue has a reciprocal option in his contract for next season.

TITANS

Obviously Lodge wants to move closer to his family, in New South Wales, but since he’s already based in Queensland, the Titans might not be a bad option.

Herman Ese’ese and Jarrod Wallace will both come out of their contracts at the end of this season, with the latter being linked to a move to the Dolphins.

An extra body in the front would now also be useful for coach Justin Holbrook.

DOLPHINS

It’s a complicated option, as the Dolphins’ pledges don’t start until November, but it’s also an attractive option.

With a cool $700,000 in his back pocket, time is in a sense on Lodge’s side.

He is struggling in rugby union for now to stay fit and could continue to do so until the end of the season.

However, according to reports, Dolphins think they can’t afford Lodge as they have already spent a lot of money on star forwards like the Bromwich brothers and Felise Kaufusi.

But it would be naive to end the expansion club with Wayne Bennett at the helm. Bennett and Lodge have had a good relationship since their time together with the Broncos.

Lodge’s father-in-law, Peter O’Sullivan is also recruiting chief and was a big factor behind Lodge’s move to the Warriors.

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