Pangai sets sights on Taumalolo-like numbers
Brisbane's resident number cruncher Tevita Pangai Jnr is in awe of the figures that Cowboys wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo posts each week and says he will use it as inspiration to try and emulate his feats.
Against a Melbourne defensive line that takes something out of the ordinary to cause any disruption Pangai Jnr is a welcome addition to a Broncos team attempting to unseat the runaway minor premiers and assume their place in the Telstra Premiership Grand Final.
Pangai's last hit-out was against Taumalolo's Cowboys in Round 26 where after just 17 minutes he aggravated a previous hamstring injury that has seen him miss both of Brisbane's finals matches to date.
For the past fortnight he put his obsession with numbers to use by encouraging his fellow 'Bash Bros' on the Bronco bench, Joe Ofahengaue and Herman Ese'ese, to each hit their target of 100 run metres but now he wants to post some big numbers of his own.
On the surface his average of 85.2 metres per game pales in comparison to Taumalolo's astonishing 207m but when you analyse their performance based on metres made per minute played, Pangai's 3.25m compares very favourably with Taumalolo's 3.31m.
Now he just has to work up the endurance to be able to sustain his power-packed stints into longer contributions.
"I always look at Taumalolo's stats and he's been pretty freaky this year," Pangai Jnr told NRL.com.
"The numbers he's been doing this year is pretty inspiring.
"Hopefully me, Herman and 'Jof' (Ofahengaue) can one day do that.
"To have your name mentioned along with some of the greats of the game like Taumalolo and Paul Gallen and all those locks would be an honour."
So enamoured by numbers is Pangai that he has this year begun a degree in accounting and points to the statistical output of the likes of LeBron James and Russell Westbrook in the NBA as to the power of numbers to highlight elite sporting performance.
He professes a love for numbers because "numbers don't lie" but admits there are some areas of rugby league that deserve more statistical analysis.
"A hundred [metres] is good for the minutes we're playing but there's two sides of it. Stats don't cover everything, you've got to read behind the numbers as well," Pangai Jnr said.
"There's obviously run metres and hit-ups and stuff but there are some that they don't count, like the little effort ones that Adam Blair doesn't get, kick-chases, kick pressures.
"Whoever is doing the stats they need to start counting those. They're the ones that count."
And if you think Pangai's number-crunching begins and ends with run metres and tackle counts, then you are severely underestimating a young man who created a path towards joining the Broncos after reading Wayne Bennett's book.
"I was sort of good at maths at school but I just wanted to learn all the formulas," said the 21-year-old.
"If I ever own a business one day I want to have a good foundation in finance.
"That's where a lot of businesses go wrong so hopefully I'm switched on there and my business doesn't go under because of poor finance."