Penrith boss Phil Gould has revealed he would welcome troubled front-rower Matt Lodge back to the club he played with as a teen.
Gould has come to the defence of Lodge, who will make his controversial return to the NRL in Brisbane's season opener against St George Illawarra on Thursday night.
Lodge came through the Panthers system as a teenager, had a brief spell at Melbourne and was sacked by the Wests Tigers after his New York City rampage in 2015.
Gould revealed he offered Lodge a lifeline after he was let go by the Wests Tigers, however, withdrew the offer after a domestic violence incident, to which the promising young prop pleaded guilty but no conviction was recorded.
He said he next encountered Lodge last year after he had returned to Australia and was seeking to resurrect his playing career with Brisbane feeder club Redcliffe.
"I will never forget the way Matt Lodge spoke to me on this day," Gould said in his Wide World of Sports column.
"When it was over, I remember walking away and saying to myself, 'wow, that kid has really changed'.
Gould said while he believed Lodge should repay the faith shown in him by Brisbane, he would welcome him back at the Panthers should the opportunity arise.
"I did tell Matt that if any time in the future he was looking for a move back towards Sydney, and that provided he kept working hard on his rehabilitation and maintaining a healthy and honest lifestyle, that I would have no problem accepting him back at the Panthers as a part of our club," Gould said.
Lodge has been criticised by the victims of his NY attack for failing to express remorse or attempt to pay back the $1.6 million ordered by a US Civil Court.
Lodge has broken his silence in an interview with Fox Sports on Wednesday night in which he expressed his shock at the attack and said he could not remember the incident after consuming a cocktail of pain medication, sleeping pills and alcohol.
It has been revealed Lodge has undergone extensive rehabilitation, counselling and treatment for alcohol abuse and had written a letter to his victims which he asked to be delivered through a US District Attorney.
Gould said Lodge was deserving of a second chance and had turned his life around.
"He took full responsibility for his actions. He offered no excuses, but did stress the fact that he remembers nothing of the incident that night," Gould said.
"A cocktail of painkillers, sleeping tablets and alcohol, after a long flight from Australia to the USA, had taken away all sense of coherence and control.
"All he remembers is waking up handcuffed, in jail. He is disgusted by the description of his actions.
"The video footage of the incident frightened him."