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How 'perfect example' SBW's helping TPJ turn career around

Brisbane forward Tevita Pangai jnr has "the perfect example" in Sonny Bill Williams helping him turn his fortunes around on and off the field following some mistakes last year.

Pangai on Tuesday said the legendary Kiwi dual international had shown him how to improve his off-field discipline after a few incidents threatened to derail his burgeoning Broncos career.

The Tongan international's connection to Williams is through former Wallabies star Quade Cooper, who he regularly trained with in Brisbane during last year's NRL shutdown due to COVID-19.

Williams contacted Pangai after he was stood down late last season over repeated bio-security breaches that resulted in a $30,000 fine and the forward effectively placed on a 12-month probation by the Broncos.

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The pair have met on three or four occasions and Williams has taken a liking to Pangai, who has been one of Brisbane's best performers this year.

"Obviously what I did [was] wrong last year with breaching protocol," Pangai said.

"Not only that, it was a good time to self-reflect on my first five years in the NRL and some of the dumb things I did on the field.

"I'm just trying to hang out with good people. I got close to Sonny, Sonny's been helping me a lot off the field. Footy comes naturally to me but the big thing is Monday to Thursday."

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Williams is a perfect mentor not only as a leader in the code but as someone who also overcame negative headlines early in his own career.

"He's a family man, he had troubles early in his career but he's the perfect example that you can get yourself out of it," Pangai added.

"People can change. That's what the game's built on, second chances, and I'm just thankful for Peter V'landys and the board up here giving me a second chance."

Having held onto his Broncos deal, Pangai said he was in no rush to leave when he becomes a free agent at the end of next year.

"It's pretty hard to get me out of Brisbane, I love being in Brisbane, I love the club, I fought hard to stay," he said.

"I'm thankful to the club – Karl [chairman Karl Morris], Tony [Anthony Joseph] and all those guys, I'm really thankful to them for giving me a second chance."

There is also an element of on-field discipline that needed correcting, with Pangai finding himself on the match review committee charge sheet more often than he'd have liked in recent times.

An incident in a match against this Saturday's opponents, North Queensland, resulted in a four-week ban for a high shot on centre Justin O'Neill last year.

"I just go out there and make my tackles and be aggressive with the ball," he said.

"Do all the little things, not going out there and trying to take someone's head off.

"Do all the little things in defence, stay in the line, all the little things [defensive coach] Matt Gillett is trying to work with me on."

SBW helped the Roosters to the 2013 NRL premiership.
SBW helped the Roosters to the 2013 NRL premiership.

Frequently used as a prop or lock, Pangai is enjoying his time out on an edge due to some gladiatorial one-on-one battles, such as last week's duel with former teammate David Fifita.

"I'm pretty happy there, I've been playing there with the injuries but I like the battles I can have out there with [Viliame] Kikau, Fifita, that kind of stuff," he said.

"They're trying to speed up the game but there's nothing better than a couple of heavyweights going at it."

 

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