Broncos’ $3.2m battle to keep TPJ
TEVITA Pangai Jr has fielded monster $3.2 million offers from Sydney-based NRL rivals as Broncos captain Darius Boyd urged Brisbane to keep a forward he says can be better than Jason Taumalolo.
The Courier-Mail can reveal Pangai Jr has become the most sought-after player of the NRL finals, with Brisbane facing a multimillion-dollar battle to retain their most explosive young forward.
Up to five NRL rivals, including Newcastle, have formally registered interest in Pangai Jr as he prepares for Sunday's sudden-death finals blockbuster against the Dragons at Suncorp Stadium.
The off-contract 113kg Tongan tearaway has received several written offers, spanning three or four seasons, worth $800,000 annually.
That puts enormous salary-cap pressure on the Broncos, who have already outlaid millions this season to retain fellow young guns Jaydn Su'A, Payne Haas and Jamayne Isaako.
The Broncos have also upgraded Queensland Origin back-rower Matt Gillett, while prop Matt Lodge and Corey Oates - a four-try hero against Manly last week - enter the finals this week without contracts for next season.
Brisbane's fight to retain Pangai Jr was underscored last week following revelations the former Junior Kangaroos skipper flew to Newcastle for talks with Knights officials.
Now the battle has intensified, with the Broncos hoping Pangai Jr's loyalty to coach Wayne Bennett can be a key factor in staving off big-money poaching raids from cashed-up NRL rivals.
Pangai Jr played junior football in Newcastle and Broncos skipper Boyd had three seasons at the Knights between 2012-14.
While Boyd has no interest in influencing Pangai Jr, he urged Broncos bosses to win a bidding war, saying the 22-year-old has the potential to surpass Cowboys wrecking ball Taumalolo.
"He can be a Jason Taumalolo in his own right," Boyd said. "He can be as destructive, if not better, than Taumalolo.
"The sky is the limit for Tevita, he has a great work ethic and football brain.
"I've been to other clubs and I know how professional the Broncos are, but it's up to Tevita to decide what he wants to do.
"I just really hope the Broncos can find a way to keep him."
Pangai Jr is currently attempting to sever ties with his manager. Their agreement expires in November, meaning the Broncos hulk will not finalise his future for 2019 until after this year's grand final.
The Broncos remain hopeful of keeping Pangai Jr, with Boyd lauding his development this season.
"He is an exciting talent, he is a special forward," he said.
"He got a lot of confidence in that Tongan camp last year (at the World Cup) playing with the likes of Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita.
"Tevita has definitely risen this year and it is because of the things he learnt with Tonga's performance at the World Cup."
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