Roosters prop Matt Lodge has voiced his opinion that defenders need to be more thoughtful in their tackles after the club considered contesting Joseph Suaalii‘s three-match ban for kneeing Canterbury hooker Reed Mahoney. Lodge, who expects to leave the Tricolours after this season, stated that he did not believe Suaalii intentionally contacted Mahoney with his knee, rather his athletic running style resulted in a high knee drive. Lodge suggested that defenders share some of the burden by ensuring their head is in the correct position during a tackle.
Mahoney was removed from Sunday’s game against the Bulldogs after his head made contact with Suaalii’s knee during a tackle and was not able to continue playing after half-time due to a head injury assessment. Roosters legal advisors were consulted and evaluation of the situation occurred in an attempt to prevent Suaalii’s suspension, but ultimately, the club opted not to challenge the ban, which could have increased to four games.
Roosters winger Corey Allan expressed his opinion that Suaalii’s contact with Mahoney was accidental, noting that Suaalii was not intending to hurt anyone. Suaalii has a prior history of raising his knee while tackling, earning him a caution at the Rugby League World Cup in 2019 for raising his knees into Tonga’s Felise Kaufusi and multiple concerning act notices from the NRL.
Regarding his future at the club, Lodge voiced his understanding that he would likely be leaving at the end of the season, given veteran forward Jared Waerea-Hargreaves‘ decision to stay and the upcoming arrival of Penrith prop Spencer Leniu in 2024. Lodge acknowledged that his playing expectations had changed since he first joined the Roosters. Despite this, Lodge expressed his appreciation for his time at the club and seemed determined to continue giving his all until the end of the season.