The Brisbane Broncos have completed a multi-million dollar week of big-name signings with boom forward Tevita Pangai jnr inking a one-year extension for 2019.
The 22-year-old Tongan international, who has told NSW coach Brad Fittler he is available for Blues selection in 2019, signed in a week where fellow stars Corey Oates and Matt Lodge also recommitted to the Broncos.
Pangai, who was born in Sydney and played his junior football in Newcastle, met with the Knights several months ago but had told NRL.com on several occasions this year that he would be staying in Brisbane.
"I'm a Brisbane Bronco, obviously I want to stay. I'm going to be working hard to get another contract," Pangai said.
"I just feel this was the best place that I can play my best football. I'm happy here so I didn't want to change too much."
"Everyone has been boxing me, a lot of fans asking me on Twitter .but I already said I would be staying and I have done that. I am glad I kept my word."
Pangai was close to former coach Wayne Bennett but said new coach Anthony Seibold would get the best out of him.
"I was also really excited when I heard that Anthony Seibold was coming to the club with his staff . I feel like he can really help me, he's really big on the effort and the defensive areas," he said.
"I've worked with [Seibold] before in the Junior Kangaroos and he's really good at explaining weaknesses in the other team and making sure that we are doing all the little things, the one percenters – that's his main focus and he's holding us accountable to that.
"In the last five days I have had under him... I have faith in the Broncos board that they have picked the right guy.
"We were two points off a minor premiership but we let in over 500 points, that is without all the defensive stuff [Seibold] is teaching us now. I feel once he brings in his defensive stuff and his system, and we stick to his plan, we are going to go a long way in 2019."
The Broncos do have salary cap pressures and are not in a position to re-sign all of their big names to multi-year deals but officials remain confident Pangai can be secured long term.
Pangai has played 54 NRL games for Brisbane and four Tests for Tonga but only scratched the surface of what he is capable of.
Oates, who this week inked a one-year contract extension, said it would be "great to win a premiership with Tevita" and watch the wrecking ball become the next Jason Taumalolo.
"Tevita's fast, athletic, big and strong and can bust tackles," Oates said.
"He is a mini Taumalolo, so it would be nice if he could become Taumalolo No.2."
Matt Lodge, who signed a new two-year deal on Thursday, is close mates with Pangai and said the pair must step up in 2019.
"Tevita can be a freak. It is good that I am close to him because we both have to work at being consistent and things off the field," Lodge said.
"We will need to step up even more this season with blokes like Josh McGuire and Sam Thaiday having left."
Lodge said the Broncos couldn't afford to be without Pangai on the field with the side not at it best when he was out with a troublesome hamstring late in the 2018 season. If he plays lock, Pangai will also need to be ready for big minutes.
"We drop down a peg when he is not on the field and [we need] his engine because Josh McGuire has gone now and we need someone to step up and do all those little efforts that go unnoticed by people and the media and that people like Moose [McGuire] put in," Lodge said.
Lodge, who regularly dines with Pangai at a Brisbane restaurant called Little Beirut, said he would keep the heat on his good mate to stay at the Broncos long-term.
"Tevita won't leave. I won't let him," Lodge grinned.
Oates warned that Pangai would not have it all his own way in the battle for the number 13 jersey in 2019 but backed him to fire under new coach Anthony Seibold.
"I hope Tevita earns that spot. It would be good to see him transition into an unbelievable lock. He would be a hard man to handle if he can do the minutes," Oates said.
"I don't think we will have another Josh McGuire in the team. He will be a man we will miss. Tevita can't think he will fill his shoes. He has to make it his own, but I don't know even know who will play lock. Joe Ofahengaue is another option.
"Seibs will be good for a lot of our younger players. He won't put much pressure on them, but he will say 'show me you want it'."