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Sorry mess: Lodge, CEO apologise as prop cops $5000 fine

Warriors prop Matt Lodge has been hit with a breach notice proposing a $5000 fine after raising his middle finger to fans in Sunday's 44-0 loss to the Titans.

Lodge, who is facing a one-match ban for a late tackle on Tyrone Peachey, and Warriors CEO Cameron George have publicly apologised after several players were involved in heated incidents.

The front-rower aimed the offensive gesture at spectators as he walked the sideline after being sin-binned in the 65th minute at Cbus Super Stadium.

NRL head of football Graham Annesley confirmed on Monday that Lodge would be personally sanctioned for his conduct.

"It wasn't reviewed by the match review committee because it wasn't an on-field matter, it was an off-field matter," Annesley said.

"But in discussions that we've had this morning with the Warriors, they are in complete agreement that that's not acceptable.

"It's not a good look for their fans or for their sponsors. As a club, it's not in line with their values. It's certainly not in line with the NRL's values either.

Lodge, Evans and Wallace also sent to the bin

"The fans pay their money to come into venues and they're entitled to support as loudly as they want.

"And as long as they do that in a way that doesn't bring them into any kind of conflict with the players themselves or any physical contact with the players, they're entitled to voice their opinions.

"We understand about the heat of the moment and the pressure players are under from time to time, particularly when crowds are giving them a bit of a hard time, but we have to rise above that.

"The Warriors are as disappointed as the NRL is, so they won't be contesting anything. They're fully supportive of the action."

A contrite Lodge posted a lengthy message to Instagram on Sunday night, saying he was "very embarrassed" by his behaviour.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Matthew Lodge (@matt_lodge)

"You work so hard to be clean, disciplined and a good example and one split decision can reverse it all," he wrote.

"Over the last 5 years I think mentally I've handled all the situations and the negativity towards me pretty good and held it all together.

"I don't know why but lately I've let a lot of it get to me which has shown me I’m not where I need to be as a person just yet. I'm genuinely sorry."

George, meanwhile, promised the club would internally address the player behaviour after a fiery end to their season.

Three players - Lodge, Kane Evans and Jazz Tevaga - were sin-binned for their parts in two melees in the 64th and 65th minutes.

Evans was also put on report for an elbow on Beau Fermor and, having been charged with grade-one dangerous contact and grade-two contrary conduct, he will miss the first five games in 2022 if he takes early guilty pleas on both counts.

Lodge's running battle with Jarrod Wallace led to him being reported for a high tackle on the Titans prop before they again clashed minutes later.

Match Highlights: Titans v Warriors

"I know the emotions ride very high, it’s a highly competitive game, and yesterday they spilled over the line that we deem appropriate," George said.

"There's no excuse for it, there's nowhere it should have come from."

George said he would hear from the players involved in the incidents before deciding what course of action to take.

"After the game, those players – once they cooled down – certainly were remorseful for their actions," he said.

"But, for me, that's irrelevant. They have a responsibility, obligation – we as a club do as well – to demonstrate very good conduct. And we failed in that space yesterday in certain times of the game.

"Regardless of their remorse post-game, we've got to make sure it doesn't happen again."

He "absolutely" has faith that Lodge, who has only played six games for the club, can be an outstanding forward leader for the Warriors.

"But that's not the standing in the matter we need to address with him. It is that disciplinary record," George said.

Get Caught Up: Round 25 must-see moments

Lodge is looking at his third suspension since arriving in July.

"As I said, we'll address that this week. It's pretty black and white with me in terms of how we move forward with this," George added.

"We'll have a chat to Matt, we'll have a chat to other players about their records, about what happened yesterday, and we'll make sure we do everything we can to tidy that up."

Wallace said his run-in with Lodge was just part of the game.

"I don't think Lodgey likes me very much and I'm not the biggest fan of his either," Wallace told Fox Sports after full-time.

"But that's football, two front-rowers going at it. We're two very passionate [players] about our teams, sometimes that heats over and that's just how it is.

"I don't think he threw any punches and neither did I, it ended up a bit of a cuddle really."

Warriors coach Nathan Brown took a dimmer view of the repeated flare-ups in his post-match media conference.

"The best way to sum it up and the convo I had with the boys was that for the last two years, and I wasn't involved with the boys in isolation last year, but a lot of people have made a lot of sacrifices," he said of the club's past two seasons played out of Australia due to COVID-19 restrictions.

"A lot more than anyone else in the game.

"Today we had players that took shortcuts and our behaviour on the field was not acceptable. We saw a lot of hard work - by those boys as well - just come tumbling down.

Every try from Round 25

"Two years of sacrifice and hard work and to finish your last game in a manner that's not acceptable. As a head coach you've got to take the brunt of that responsibility."

Evans has also spent on the sidelines due to suspension throughout 2021, with his short fuse proving a target for Cronulla veteran Will Chambers when he goaded him into throwing punches last month.

"What we saw today, those things have to be addressed," Brown said. "You can't ignore it because you don't want it happening again."

A crestfallen Brown was reluctant to look back on his club's campaign given the brutal loss and uncertainty still ahead for players and staff.

The Warriors are still no more certain on when their New Zealand-based club contingent will be able to return home due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Preparations for the club to once again play out of Australia in 2022 at the base of feeder side Redcliffe continue to be discussed as a possibility, with a formal confirmation of the team's pre-season and NRL campaign expected in the near future.

Warriors: Round 25

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