Warriors boss Cameron George has attempted to explain buying out wantaway prop Matt Lodge's 2023 contract after conceding that "maybe he didn't want to play" for the NRL club's owner anymore.
Lodge's immediate, expensive departure from the Redcliffe-based club was announced a day before the Warriors' loss to St George Illawarra last week.
The former Brisbane forward was apparently not keen to move back to New Zealand with his family and take up the player option next season.
Reports of a $700,000 golden handshake despite Lodge triggering the move have angered fans though, George unwilling to confirm the figure but saying owner Mark Robinson was happy to buy out the remaining 18 months of his salary and move on.
George also confirmed a "stern" discussion between the pair in December was a key reason for Lodge's exit.
"I don't know whether we ever moved on from it," George said of their verbal exchange.
"Maybe he didn't want to play for Mark Robinson any more. Mark has to accept that. Not every player does and will in the future.
"We just sensibly sat down and worked out a way forward and that's where we landed (by buying out his player option).
"Matt's really happy, I'm really happy and I'm happy because Matt's happy.
"If people want to be here they'll get rewarded and be looked after and if they wish to move on and we feel that's the best thing for the club, we go in a separate direction."
Lodge received an NRL lifeline from the Broncos in 2018, two years after avoiding a stint in a US jail for allegedly assaulting a man and threatening two women, eventually reaching a settlement to compensate the victims.
Moving to the Warriors mid-season last year, he played just 14 games thanks to injury and suspension.
But George said his recruitment was not a mistake.
"Absolutely don't regret signing Matt Lodge," George said.
"I got to know Matt quite well; him and his family are wonderful people and Matt's a hardworking person."
Lodge's buyout will be included in the club's 2023 salary cap.
"We will not confirm the number; the settlement was agreed upon and it's something we're very comfortable with and it sits well within our salary cap over the next season and a half," George said.
Australian Associated Press
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