Pangai reveals Bennett's SOS call before cameo of carnage
Tevita Pangai jnr once called Wayne Bennett from Canberra to ask if he could come to the Broncos. Bennett said 'yes'.
So when the Brisbane coach made an SOS call to Pangai on Thursday to ask the Tongan international to play against Penrith, the 22-year-old powerhouse answered in the affirmative and returned the favour, despite not believing his hamstring injury would hold up.
After playing 30 devastating minutes in the 50-18 win over the Panthers at Suncorp Stadium, and scoring two first half tries, Pangai revealed that he had "tried to'"say no to Bennett.
"But the big fella wanted me to play so I just tried to do my job and get the boys rolling," Pangai said.
Pangai, who missed Brisbane's round 18 loss to the Warriors, had appeared to get through the captain's run OK on Thursday, but after cooling down did not believe he would get through the clash with the Panthers.
"I wasn't going to play actually," Pangai said.
"Wayne called me up after the captain's run and I said 'it is still feeling pretty tight'. I wasn't really confident about playing but I was glad that he made me play.
"We really needed to win and get some form back. I got 30 minutes so hopefully it gets better over the next couple of weeks."
Pangai said he was confident of being fit to face Cronulla on Thursday night.
After the Panthers win Bennett said that "30 minutes of Tevita is better than no minutes of Tevita".
Pangai's value to the Broncos was encapsulated in that statement by the Brisbane coach, with 2018 proving to be a breakout season for the former Canberra Raider.
His two tries against the Panthers showcased his burgeoning confidence – the first after running a great line off a Sam Thaiday pass and the second after wrestling with five Penrith defenders to plant the ball down and celebrate like a colossus.
NSW star James Roberts was in his ear after both tries and Pangai said the NSW star had provided regular words of encouragement that instilled belief.
"James Roberts always talks to me about believing in myself and being confident, so now I back myself a bit more," Pangai said.
"Jimmy had done a good job with me in trying to push me.
"It takes a bit of time playing in the forwards to solidify your place in the team and earn the boys trust.
"The Broncos are one of the biggest sporting brands, and with all the Test and Origin players here it is hard to get your confidence up.The senior boys are starting to trust me so that is a big plus for me."
Pangai, who is off-contract but determined to re-sign with Brisbane long-term, said he was hopeful of getting his next deal sorted in November so he can join the recently secured Payne Haas and a suite of other young forwards into the future.
"There is definitely a future here and hopefully we can keep everyone together I am just happy for Payne that he has got a big contract," Pangai said.
"We are all mates… and all us young boys want to try and be the best we can and bring a premiership to Brisbane again and this year, or in the next few years, be a dominant force."
Match: Broncos vs Panthers
Round 19 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
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