Young Broncos not 100 per cent
Young Brisbane Broncos prop Tevita Pangai Junior may have returned from injury ahead of schedule, but it will be a while before he is back to his best with the 21-year-old revealing to NRL.com that his knee is still not 100 per cent.
Pangai Junior injured both his finger and his knee in Brisbane's 24-22 win over the Gold Coast Titans in Round 7, missing five games of football as a result.
It was feared he could miss up to 12 weeks, with his broken finger requiring surgery.
But he has since returned ahead of schedule, playing limited minutes in the Broncos' two-point loss to the Sydney Roosters in Round 13.
Initially it was thought the young forward's finger would be the biggest concern, but it appears the injury to his MCL is still plaguing him seven weeks after he first suffered the setback.
Speaking to NRL.com, Pangai Junior said although he was scared to undergo the first surgery of his NRL career, it was the right decision to mend his finger, with his knee now the main concern as he looks to return to his barnstorming best.
"It was pretty daunting getting surgery. I was pretty scared to be honest," Pangai Junior said.
"I didn't want to get surgery but it was the best way for me to come back early. I wanted to get back onto the field as soon as possible.
"My knee is still not 100 per cent but I'm back playing footy and putting my body on the line. The knee should be back to 100 per cent after the byes."
Before their first bye Brisbane will face the South Sydney Rabbitohs and it will give Pangai Junior a chance to once again go toe-to-toe with a player he has always looked up to.
"It's a bit of a four-point game. We are not taking Souths lightly. They are a team that competes very well and they have some danger men there," he said.
"I grew up liking Sam Burgess as a player, especially in that 2014 grand final. I've always wanted to play a game like that.
"I looked up to him a bit. He was lock of the year the other year so I wouldn't mind becoming as good a player as him."
And in the future he just might, but for now Pangai Junior is doing everything in his power to improve his game.
This includes analysing rugby league from a different perspective, something his injuries gave him a rare chance to do.
"It was good to see how the team prepares for the game from a different point of view," he said.
"I spent some time in the coach's box and then I watched a game or two with Ben Hunt and Benji Marshall.
"It was a different insight and it was good to see how they approached the game from the sidelines."