Lodge pushing the boundaries in recovery
Brisbane prop Matt Lodge has revealed the extreme methods he embraced to conjure a miracle recovery from a potentially season-ending knee injury.
Lodge will report for training at Red Hill on Monday with his sights firmly set on pulling on a Broncos jersey when the NRL season resumes from May 28.
The 2020 premiership was nearly written off for Lodge in February when his right knee buckled during a routine training session on the eve of pre-season trials.
Scans revealed Lodge had suffered a partial tear to his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), an injury which generally requires surgery and a nine-to-twelve month recovery.
But there was a glimmer of hope. Lodge had suffered a similar partial tear to the same knee in 2015 while at the Wests Tigers and was able to rehabilitate it without surgery.
Lodge, 24, decided to roll the dice again and the suspension of the NRL season due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March was a silver lining, giving him three months to let his knee heal.
Last week, Lodge ran for the first time since February and has vowed to lead Brisbane's engine room in their first game of the new-look NRL season.
Lodge told The Sunday Mail he had been drinking collagen-rich bone broths and embraced techniques like meditation, mental imagery healing and intensive acupuncture to save his 2020 campaign.
"I was going to Pulse Acupuncture nearly every day in the first month," he said.
"I do a lot of visualisation and imagery of the injury healing. It's a bit weird but that's what I do. I did that for a good hour a day along with meditation in a float tank and infra-red sauna at City Cave.
"I did everything I could in the first month to give it the best chance to heal.
"To hear from the surgeon at five weeks that he was surprised at how well it had healed reinforced to me that I had done the right things. The first six weeks was crucial and I was very thorough with everything.
"I went back into the brace for another month while doing the rehab at home. I'm at about 11 weeks now.
"I got out of the brace a week ago and have started some slow running. I will see the surgeon next week to try and get cleared and see how it goes. If it doesn't work for me when I get back it never will."
Lodge sat on the sidelines as the injury ravaged Broncos produced a hot start to 2020, winning their first two games before the NRL season was suspended.
Coach Anthony Seibold is reluctant to rush Lodge back into the fray and it is natural to assume his knee is a ticking time bomb which could explode at any point and end his year.
But Lodge doesn't see it that way and can't wait to test it out.
"I'll probably have another scan but it won't show much, it's more about how it goes when I start ramping up the training," Lodge said.
"The target is to play the first game. If I can't play by then I can't really take any longer. If it's going to work, then it has to work then.
"I'll put in the work over the next four weeks to get up to speed with my movements and agility and then I should be out there.
"It's not a risk because it was a better option than getting surgery. The longer I go the stronger it becomes.
"Initially I was going to come back in six-eight weeks which would have been more risky.
"But the break has given me more than three months. It takes about 12 weeks for the ligament to heal so I've had every chance for that to happen.
"I don't think I'll be at any more risk than anyone else.
"You can go a whole game without using that structure, but you can make a bad movement and tear it."
While the suspension of the NRL season has given Lodge time to overcome his injury, he has also had other matters keeping him busy.
Lodge and partner Jessica O'Sullivan welcomed their second child, Tommy, three weeks ago.
Tommy has been a welcome distraction from the frustrations of injury rehabilitation and Lodge is itching to play his 60th NRL game when the season resumes.
"It's been good staying around home and getting to do a bit around the house - they wouldn't have survived without me," he laughed.
"Tommy's a really good baby and our other son (Coby, 2) loves him.
"I was heartbroken when I did my knee the week before the first trial. I just love playing footy, I always have.
"I'm pretty lucky I haven't missed too much footy because I'm not the biggest fan of sitting on the sideline watching the team play. Hopefully I'll be ready to go."
Originally published as Lodge pushing the boundaries in recovery