The 'perfect 10' words that changed Pangai jnr

Show me your friends and I'll show you your future.

They are the perfect 10 words of wisdom that Wayne Bennett offered Tevita Pangai jnr when the young Bronco was at one of his lowest ebbs.

Those words still resonate with the 22-year-old prop as he explained why he called the Brisbane coach in 2016 when he was unhappy after four years at Canberra and disillusioned about his chances of playing in the Telstra Premiership.

"I was just a young guy with a dream to play NRL and I didn't see a pathway at Canberra," Pangai told NRL.com.

"I got Wayne's number off one of the boys and called him to pick his brain.

"I was in a tough situation because I thought I'd play NRL in 2015, but didn't get to. So I called him for some life advice and he said 'show me your friends and I'll show you your future'. What that means to me is that the people you hang around with and surround yourself with, that is what you are going to be.

"If they are successful and hungry every day to achieve then you will be too. Wayne asked how I'd feel about coming to Brisbane and I said 'let's get the deal done'. He wanted me to be in a good environment at the Broncos, and this has been a great environment for me and my career."

Pangai is off contract and is set to attract lucrative offers to leave Brisbane but said he wanted to stay, while adding he hoped Bennett coached until he was 80.

"I want to stay here and hopefully we'll get it sorted soon," Pangai said.

"I look at Darius Boyd and how he's won two premierships, a Clive Churchill Medal and played for his country and his state… all under Wayne.

"Hopefully Wayne will hang around for 10 years and he'll coach me for the rest of my career."

It is not hard to understand his sentiments when you consider he was released from the final year of his Raiders deal in 2016 to join the Broncos, the same year he played the first of his 37 games.

Pangai has learned plenty from his new "friends" at the Broncos.

Last year Adam Blair taught him the secrets of maintaining a balanced diet and he has been picking the brain of stalwarts such as Sam Thaiday and Alex Glenn about what it means to be a professional.

"I weigh 113kg now but I was up to 127kg when I was down in Canberra," Pangai grinned.

"I ate at McDonald's every day once the season had finished and thought it was like the old days where you could blow out in the off-season and come back in pre-season and train it all off, but times have changed. It is not the 1990s anymore and you've got to look after your body all year round.

"Now I am eating healthy and wholesome foods, not sugars and high-carb foods like white bread and pasta."

Believe it or not the big bopper was a winger and centre in junior grades at Newcastle.

"I love my food as you know and I just got bigger and filled out, but I hated playing front-row when I got moved there," he said.

Broncos prop Tevita Pangai jnr.
Broncos prop Tevita Pangai jnr. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"Ricky Stuart had this idea that I should play there when I was about 18 in the NSW Cup and turned me into a middle, and I haven't looked back since."

Pangai made the point he did learn a lot under Stuart.

"My work rate in defence wasn't up to scratch down there but I worked hard at it," he said.

"At Canberra, I learned you have got to be a professional every week and if you are relying on your attack to make it in the NRL you won't do that well.

"Ricky taught me how to work on my discipline and my preparation. He gave me a few sprays in the pre-season but he meant well."

Hopefully Wayne will hang around for 10 years and he'll coach me for the rest of my career.

Tevita Pangai jnr

Glenn is convinced Pangai will continue to thrive as long as he doesn't get carried away with all the attention he is getting for his barnstorming form.

"He is a beast and still so young, and that's the scary thing," Glenn told NRL.com.

"Tevita has so much power and so much skill. It's crazy the speed that he can produce at his weight.

"The key for him is being humble and not getting too big-headed, and being happy to grind games out and not just rely on the flashy stuff. If he does that he will have a bright future."