Pangai Jr ready to face idol Taumalolo
Up-and-coming Brisbane forward Tevita Pangai Jr says he can't wait to take on his teenage hero for the second time when the Broncos take on the North Queensland Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Pangai Jr will square up against arguably the game's best lock forward on Friday when he goes toe-to-toe with the 113kg monster that is Jason Taumalolo.
Taumalolo is Pangai Jr's idol, with the 21-year-old spending hours and hours of his time watching footage of the New Zealand international carve up his opposition.
The obsession first started when a 14-year-old Pangai Jr watched his brother Mosese play in the Cowboys NYC team with Taumalolo.
Taumalolo's incredible footwork and brute strength wowed Pangai Jr and he knew straight away that he had found the player to mould his game around.
These days Pangai Jr is still pinching himself that he gets to play against a man of Taumalolo's stature, and he hopes to one day emulate him by playing rugby league on the international stage.
"I'm really looking forward to playing Jason Taumalolo. I looked up to him as a kid and I've watched so much video of his running game," Pangai Jnr said.
"I've tried to build my game around him. I was down in Canberra when I first started taking notice of his running game and watching a lot of video on it.
"I've tried to base my game around his and work some of his subtleties into my own style of play.
"He played with my brother for the Cowboys in the 2011 under-20s grand final so we have some connections."
His brother Mosese is now at the Broncos after signing with the club late in 2016 from Intrust Super Cup club the Townsville Blackhawks.
Both couldn't be happier at Red Hill, with Pangai Jr beginning his second season at Brisbane after departing the Canberra Raiders at the start of 2016.
For Pangai Jr, the move up to Queensland was the best thing he has ever done, and the Junior Kangaroo was quick to tell media how much joy he has had playing under Wayne Bennett.
"Both the Broncos and the Raiders are very similar in that they are both great clubs," he said.
"They both have great history as well so there are some similarities.
"It's great to be coached by Wayne Bennett because he's a legend of the game. The weather in Brisbane is a huge improvement as well."