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Lodge the secret weapon in mission to keep Tevita

Matt Lodge has emerged as the secret weapon in the Brisbane Broncos' bid to retain off-contract forward Tevita Pangai jnr on a long-term deal.

Lodge has often spoken of his desire to lead the Brisbane forward pack into a new era of success alongside the Tongan international, who he counts as one of his closest mates.

Over dinner at the duo's favourite Lebanese restaurant in Brisbane called Little Beirut, it is a hint here and a suggestion there that Lodge provides Pangai about where his future belongs.

On Tuesday after training, Lodge outlined why Pangai should stay at Brisbane and not chase a pot of gold elsewhere.

"I have been in his ear to play with me as long as he can. I hope he stays here," Lodge said.

"He has to stay consistent and play well and he will get a good deal for himself and hopefully he stays here with me. If he wants to go, I will have to come up against him one day and he doesn't want to do that so he might want to stay around.

Broncos duo Tevita Pangai (left) and Matt Lodge.
Broncos duo Tevita Pangai (left) and Matt Lodge. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

"The lifestyle, the facilities, everything you need is here to be a good player. It's a one-team town so you don't run into the other eight teams when you are out for a feed. You get to stay in the bubble and work hard.

"Tevita is enjoying it here and if he's enjoying it he would be silly to change things. I've done that before and sometimes it doesn't work out so you are best to stick to what you know."

The Broncos want to keep 23-year-old Pangai long-term but has reported that the club will not get into a bidding war for his services. How much the market is prepared to pay for him will become more apparent in coming weeks when Pangai's management sits down with the Broncos to nut out a new deal.

There will be headlines galore but Lodge said there was only one way for Pangai to deal with the limelight.

"My advice is to not read the media himself," Lodge said.

"He played well against the Cowboys [in round two] but no-one can back up a game like that every week. He carried the ball well but it's either the high of highs or low of lows and that's how the stories go.

"He just has to keep a level head and go about his work. He performed last week and the week before. He will do his job."

Broncos centre Jack Bird knows about hype after signing a lucrative three-year deal with the Broncos in 2018. The 2016 premiership-winner said it was vital Pangai remained at the club while warning that now was the time for the Brisbane wrecking ball to focus on the short term.

Broncos centre Jack Bird.
Broncos centre Jack Bird. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

"He's someone we need to lock down long term," Bird said.

"He's only young and you can see what he can do, but in saying that he's got to keep his head on his shoulders and try to not look too far ahead.

"It is hard when you play first grade and play a few good games and the media come knocking on your door but Tevita doesn't have Facebook or Instragram. As a young player coming through you like to read what is being said about you. The best thing is not to look at it, good or bad, because you can either get ahead of yourself or down in the dumps."

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