Pangai storms into Kangaroos contention as decision looms
The form of Tevita Pangai Junior has placed the Brisbane Broncos wrecking-ball on the radar of the Australian selectors for the end-of-season Tests, however he is yet to decide which nation he wants to represent.
NRL.com understands Pangai Junior has caught the eye of Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga and is in line for a potential debut at the end of the year, but has to decide if he wants to join Tongan teammate Andrew Fifita as the second player to turn his back on the Kangaroos.
The 22-year-old chose Tonga over NSW at the start of the year and will be forced to make a similar decision if he continues to impress in the run home to the finals.
Many of the forwards from the Kangaroos' successful World Cup campaign last year have struggled with injury and form throughout 2018, including Jordan McLean, Matt Gillett, Wade Graham, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Aaron Woods, leaving the door open for some fresh faces.
Tonga coach Kristian Woolf said he would be "very surprised" if Pangai Junior didn't pledge his allegiance to Tonga, however the Tongans may not have a match for him to play in.
As it stands there is no game between Tonga and Australia locked in for October, despite discussions being held about a proposed game in New York on October 20.
The Kangaroos will at least play New Zealand in Auckland on October 13, but Tonga don't have a Test match scheduled at this stage.
It could allow Pangai Junior the opportunity to represent Australia if selected without having to choose his allegiance.
However Woolf is confident Pangai Junior will pick Tonga over Australia if a decision is required.
"Every discussion I've had with him, he's been very strong on his commitment to Tonga," Woolf said.
"He's very committed to do what Jason [Taumalolo] and Andrew [Fifita] have done and wants to be part of taking Tonga forward. I'd be very surprised if anything changes.
"He was outstanding through the World Cup and was a big part of our success with the impact he was able to make. The two games against New Zealand and England stand out the most. He played a big part and has only improved since then."