Why Pangai jnr wants to be like Cameron Smith
Tevita Pangai jnr is racking up one man of the match award after another as he targets the great Cameron Smith's phenomenal record of consistency.
The Broncos prop has been pivotal in four of the club's hard-fought victories this year but he is not satisfied with what he has already achieved.
The 22-year-old powerhouse had a huge game against the Cowboys in round two where he turned the game with some bullocking charges before coming up with the match winning play to deflect Scott Bolton into the goal post at the death.
He won the Anzac Medal for his rampaging ways against South Sydney and was the Channel Nine man of the match for another dominant display against the Canterbury Bulldogs on Thursday night.
There is hardly a difference between Smith's best game and his worst and it is a consistency that Pangai wants to emulate.
"I know all the good players in my position and the greats in the game perform week-in and week-out," Pangai told NRL.com.
"Cameron Smith is one that really stands out. He's at his best every week and it is a mindset I've got now.
"For us young forwards, we just want to earn the senior players' respect and the only way to do that is to play our hearts out and bring a lot of energy to each game.
"For the last few years I've been trying to earn their respect. I probably still haven't earned it yet. I know I've got to perform consistently to really earn it."
Pangai had shown glimpses of his best in previous seasons but approached the recent pre-season with a determination to take his game to another level after being inspired by his Tongan teammates at the World Cup.
"I think I finally realised my potential after the World Cup. That was the big one," he said.
"Being in camp with Jason Taumalolo, Andrew Fifita and Sika Manu and all those boys gave me a lot of confidence and on the back of that I had a big pre-season.
"Now I know that I am not lacking fitness."
While Pangai is emulating the example of representative stars he admires he is also thriving off the back of the performances of the young forwards who are now leading the Broncos.
Pangai ran for 150m from 16 runs against the Bulldogs, which included 66 post-contact metres, and had plenty of help.
Joe Ofahengaue (128m and 15 runs), Matt Lodge (180m and 16 runs) and Jaydn Su'A (136m and 16 runs) all fired up the Broncos' engine room against Canterbury.
"If Joe makes a big run or Matt Lodge makes a big run you want to have the carry after that to keep the momentum going," Pangai said.
"Jaydn Su'A's shoulders are made out of rocks. I know, because he's hit me a few times at training.
"I wouldn't want to run his way if I was in the other team. We are all feeding off each other."
Ofahengaue said recently that Pangai was leading the charge of the young brigade. Pangai is also inspired by Big Joe's own development.
"Joe is an effort player and doesn't get the credit for the things that he does but he runs hard, does all the little things right and punches out a lot of minutes off the bench," Pangai said.
"He's got a massive motor and I'm just real proud of his growth as a player and a person."