Infotainment Factory: How Broncos legend set 113kg star straight

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Sunday, 10 March 2019

How Broncos legend set 113kg star straight


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Tevita Pangai Jr was touted as a NSW Origin bolter after two games last season.

Two games. That’s the Blues hype train for you and former Brisbane Broncos teammate Sam Thaiday reckons it went to Pangai Jr’s head.

Thaiday pulled the 113kg prop aside for a quiet word.

“Recent conversations I’ve had with Tevita, he’s really slowed down. He’s deflated the head a little bit, which is good,” Thaiday, a new Channel Nine commentator, told Wide World of Sports.

“When you start playing some decent footy and people start recognising you, it’s hard for a young kid sometimes to just whoa it up a bit. He’s gone away and tightened his focus and he’s ready to go.

“His focus is going to be on the Broncos. I kind of had a chat to him when all these rumours were going around about him wanting to play for NSW and that he was going to get picked last year, all these types of things. I pretty much said to him, ‘It will look after itself if you play good football at the Broncos’.

“I think he actually listened to me, which is good. He’ll be one of our leaders in that forward pack.”

Thaiday, who played 29 Origins, said that fitness was the only thing standing between Pangai Jr and a blockbuster season. The 23-year-old Newcastle product has battled niggling injuries thanks to his giant frame and explosive playing style.

“Staying on the field is his biggest drama. Being such a powerful athlete that he is, it was those small muscle tears that he really struggled with last year; hamstrings, calves,” Thaiday said.

“He can definitely play football, but if you want to be one of the greats, you need to work on a whole heap of different things. Sometimes that’s injury-prevention stuff. I’m sure that he’ll be doing that this year.”

Broncos icon Darren Lockyer agrees.

“Pangai is probably the most explosive player we’ve got, and that we’ve had for some time,” Lockyer told Wide World of Sports.

“The key for him is just staying fit. He’s had that ongoing issue with his hamstrings. He’s the type of player that you’d like to have out there every week, but if he drifts in and out because of injury, it takes him a couple of games to get going again. I love watching him play and I know the fans do as well, so hopefully ’19 is a big year for him.

“There’s a lot of guys that are prone to soft-tissue injuries. It just means you’ve got to get better at stretching and doing all the stuff you’ve got to do. Part of it is genetics; I know a lot of guys to have genetically struggled with soft-tissue injuries, but they worked hard on what they needed to do to get themselves right and in the end, they worked it out.”

Pangai Jr got his wake-up call from Thaiday last year. Fellow Brisbane prop Payne Haas got his during this pre-season. Haas, 20, will miss the first four games of the season after the Broncos sanctioned him for not cooperating adequately with the NRL integrity unit.

Even bigger than Pangai Jr at 194cm and 119kg, Haas has been tipped to cop his punishment and return strongly.

“I think we all kind of needed a kick up the bum at some point in our careers. You look back at everyone’s career, they all had one at some point,” Thaiday said.

“His has just come early in his career, hopefully there’s not too many more of those. He’ll bounce back and he’ll be fantastic for the Broncos forward pack.”

Lockyer said that Haas would be better for the setback.

“We start to appreciate things more when they get taken away from us. I know it’s only four games, but he got fined some money as well,” he said.

“Doing that’s only going to benefit the guy long-term. Is there another sanction potentially down the road? Maybe. That’s just what you have to deal with, with young kids. I think the game, from the Broncos’ perspective, we’re trying to come down hard on this stuff to deter it as much as we can.”

The Brisbane pack is raw but absolutely stacked this season. Pangai Jr and Haas are joined by veterans Alex Glenn and Matt Gillett, plus young guns Thomas Flegler, David Fifita, Jaydn Su’A, Patrick Carrigan and Joe Ofahengaue. Matt Lodge, a 2018 recruit, is still just 23.

With veterans Sam Tagataese and Shaun Fensom also in the mix, new coach Anthony Seibold has plenty of options despite the retirement of Thaiday and the departure of Test forward Josh McGuire to North Queensland.

“I think most people agree they’re one of the most exciting forward packs coming through,” Lockyer said.

“Flegler is really impressive. Everyone knows David Fifita, I’m looking forward to seeing him go again. And Jaydn Su’A got a little bit lost late last year due to injury, but he’s exciting as well. I’m looking forward to seeing Payne Haas. There’s some exciting prospects there.

“When Su’A first came into grade, he was really young. It just took a while to adapt to the pace. Now he’s a year older, he’s got more confidence. It just comes down to being fit. He’s been impressive [in pre-season], Seibs has been happy with him. The word is Seibs will give him plenty of footy this year.”

Thaiday said that Seibold’s arrival gave Brisbane’s youngsters the perfect platform to make a name for themselves.

“I think the best thing that could have happened for some of those young guys is a bit of change this year,” Thaiday said.

“I know that Anthony Seibold’s come in and he’s hit the reset button, and no one’s role or pick in the team is guaranteed, which is awesome. They’ve got a chance of playing throughout the whole season and I’m sure they’ll go out there and play some awesome footy.

“Even just from the All Stars game, I watched young guys like Kotoni Staggs, David Fifita; those two looked like they belonged in that representative football arena, they didn’t look out of place at all. I’m looking forward to seeing guys like that play this year.

“Young Jaydn Su’A, who’s had another year of footy and another pre-season under his belt. I’m excited to see how they go – they’ll go well.”

Lockyer, instrumental in luring Seibold replace Wayne Bennett as coach, said that he believed the former Rabbitohs boss would be the perfect mentor for a young side.

“Seibs is really trying to drive culture around consistency on a daily basis, which will hopefully give us consistency on the weekend,” Lockyer said.

“History shows that you’ve got to be in the top four to give yourself the best chance and that’s the first goal: the play consistently well enough to get us into that top four.”

Tevita Pangai Jr was touted as a NSW Origin bolter after two games last season.

Two games. That’s the Blues hype train for you and former Brisbane Broncos teammate Sam Thaiday reckons it went to Pangai Jr’s head.

Thaiday pulled the 113kg prop aside for a quiet word.

“Recent conversations I’ve had with Tevita, he’s really slowed down. He’s deflated the head a little bit, which is good,” Thaiday, a new Channel Nine commentator, told Wide World of Sports.

“When you start playing some decent footy and people start recognising you, it’s hard for a young kid sometimes to just whoa it up a bit. He’s gone away and tightened his focus and he’s ready to go.

“His focus is going to be on the Broncos. I kind of had a chat to him when all these rumours were going around about him wanting to play for NSW and that he was going to get picked last year, all these types of things. I pretty much said to him, ‘It will look after itself if you play good football at the Broncos’.

“I think he actually listened to me, which is good. He’ll be one of our leaders in that forward pack.”

Thaiday, who played 29 Origins, said that fitness was the only thing standing between Pangai Jr and a blockbuster season. The 23-year-old Newcastle product has battled niggling injuries thanks to his giant frame and explosive playing style.

“Staying on the field is his biggest drama. Being such a powerful athlete that he is, it was those small muscle tears that he really struggled with last year; hamstrings, calves,” Thaiday said.

“He can definitely play football, but if you want to be one of the greats, you need to work on a whole heap of different things. Sometimes that’s injury-prevention stuff. I’m sure that he’ll be doing that this year.”

Broncos icon Darren Lockyer agrees.

“Pangai is probably the most explosive player we’ve got, and that we’ve had for some time,” Lockyer told Wide World of Sports.

“The key for him is just staying fit. He’s had that ongoing issue with his hamstrings. He’s the type of player that you’d like to have out there every week, but if he drifts in and out because of injury, it takes him a couple of games to get going again. I love watching him play and I know the fans do as well, so hopefully ’19 is a big year for him.

“There’s a lot of guys that are prone to soft-tissue injuries. It just means you’ve got to get better at stretching and doing all the stuff you’ve got to do. Part of it is genetics; I know a lot of guys to have genetically struggled with soft-tissue injuries, but they worked hard on what they needed to do to get themselves right and in the end, they worked it out.”

Pangai Jr got his wake-up call from Thaiday last year. Fellow Brisbane prop Payne Haas got his during this pre-season. Haas, 20, will miss the first four games of the season after the Broncos sanctioned him for not cooperating adequately with the NRL integrity unit.

Even bigger than Pangai Jr at 194cm and 119kg, Haas has been tipped to cop his punishment and return strongly.

“I think we all kind of needed a kick up the bum at some point in our careers. You look back at everyone’s career, they all had one at some point,” Thaiday said.

“His has just come early in his career, hopefully there’s not too many more of those. He’ll bounce back and he’ll be fantastic for the Broncos forward pack.”

Lockyer said that Haas would be better for the setback.

“We start to appreciate things more when they get taken away from us. I know it’s only four games, but he got fined some money as well,” he said.

“Doing that’s only going to benefit the guy long-term. Is there another sanction potentially down the road? Maybe. That’s just what you have to deal with, with young kids. I think the game, from the Broncos’ perspective, we’re trying to come down hard on this stuff to deter it as much as we can.”

The Brisbane pack is raw but absolutely stacked this season. Pangai Jr and Haas are joined by veterans Alex Glenn and Matt Gillett, plus young guns Thomas Flegler, David Fifita, Jaydn Su’A, Patrick Carrigan and Joe Ofahengaue. Matt Lodge, a 2018 recruit, is still just 23.

With veterans Sam Tagataese and Shaun Fensom also in the mix, new coach Anthony Seibold has plenty of options despite the retirement of Thaiday and the departure of Test forward Josh McGuire to North Queensland.

“I think most people agree they’re one of the most exciting forward packs coming through,” Lockyer said.

“Flegler is really impressive. Everyone knows David Fifita, I’m looking forward to seeing him go again. And Jaydn Su’A got a little bit lost late last year due to injury, but he’s exciting as well. I’m looking forward to seeing Payne Haas. There’s some exciting prospects there.

“When Su’A first came into grade, he was really young. It just took a while to adapt to the pace. Now he’s a year older, he’s got more confidence. It just comes down to being fit. He’s been impressive [in pre-season], Seibs has been happy with him. The word is Seibs will give him plenty of footy this year.”

Thaiday said that Seibold’s arrival gave Brisbane’s youngsters the perfect platform to make a name for themselves.

“I think the best thing that could have happened for some of those young guys is a bit of change this year,” Thaiday said.

“I know that Anthony Seibold’s come in and he’s hit the reset button, and no one’s role or pick in the team is guaranteed, which is awesome. They’ve got a chance of playing throughout the whole season and I’m sure they’ll go out there and play some awesome footy.

“Even just from the All Stars game, I watched young guys like Kotoni Staggs, David Fifita; those two looked like they belonged in that representative football arena, they didn’t look out of place at all. I’m looking forward to seeing guys like that play this year.

“Young Jaydn Su’A, who’s had another year of footy and another pre-season under his belt. I’m excited to see how they go – they’ll go well.”

Lockyer, instrumental in luring Seibold replace Wayne Bennett as coach, said that he believed the former Rabbitohs boss would be the perfect mentor for a young side.

“Seibs is really trying to drive culture around consistency on a daily basis, which will hopefully give us consistency on the weekend,” Lockyer said.

“History shows that you’ve got to be in the top four to give yourself the best chance and that’s the first goal: the play consistently well enough to get us into that top four.”

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