Lodge backlash timing disappoints Bennett

Wayne Bennett insists Matt Lodge has paid a price for a 2015 New York drunken rampage and blames the media for the uproar over the controversial prop's NRL return.

The Brisbane coach says he is disappointed over the timing of the Lodge criticism that threatens to overshadow Thursday night's season opener against St George Illawarra at Jubilee Oval.

Lodge will play his first NRL game since being deregistered over the 2015 attack.

Bennett wondered why the media were focusing on Lodge now, claiming nothing was said when they first signed him last November for 2018.

Lodge also played last season for Brisbane feeder club Redcliffe.

"What I can't understand is that he has been here 15 months now - you have all seen him here," Bennett said.

"You knew he signed a contract to play here and, a fortnight out from the season, he is making national news and headlines and nothing but massive amounts of criticism for him.

"Where have you been hiding, all of you, the last 18 months?

"That's the part I am disappointed about."

Brisbane have been criticised for sheltering Lodge from the media, not offering him once for interview since earning his one-year deal.

But Bennett reckoned it wouldn't have made a difference if Lodge had nipped the situation in the bud early with the media.

"You have your agenda - I know that," Bennett said.

"I don't know why it started the way it did but it (Lodge speaking to media) wouldn't have made a difference."

Lodge avoided a 12-month jail term in the US over the attack with a plea deal but was hit with a $1.5 million damages bill.

Asked if they had put their reputation on the line by signing Lodge, Bennett bristled: "Why have we done that?

"You all knew what was going on; we signed him six months ago.

"No one said much at that time. We have broken no rules - he has broken no rules.

"He has paid a price for what he has done.

"We are all moving on. Can you understand that?"

Lodge's victims have claimed they have not received any payment and believe he is trying to avoid justice by returning to the NRL.

Asked if Lodge should pay his victims, Bennett said: "You are talking to me about things that don't impact on me or the club.

"That's things that happened before he came here.

"I am sure he has all the good intentions in the world."

Bennett said Lodge had handled the criticism well and was primed for his Broncos debut.

"I saw Matt three years ago (in Sydney) and told him his behaviour wasn't acceptable and, if he wanted to come here, he had to make some changes," Bennett said.

"He has been wonderful the last couple of years - I have no criticism of his behaviour at all.

"We have high standards here and I have no doubt he will live up to those standards."