Pangai Jr keeps his head out of clouds
YOUNG gun Tevita Pangai Jr has turned to a number of senior Broncos to help him cope with growing expectations after his impressive start to the season.
The Brisbane prop has been lauded for his early form and how he has handled the games where he has started, with his Round 2 performance against the Cowboys particularly promising.
But coach Wayne Bennett has tried to temper the excitement around Pangai Jr, who is still only 22.
Bennett said this season that Pangai Jr didn’t need all the publicity he had received after that Round 2 performance, and the club wanted him to be playing that way on a consistent basis.
Avoiding that attention is something the Tongan international has been working on.
“I’m still learning,” Pangai Jr said.
“I’m still a young boy, so I talk to the older players in Matt Gillett and Sam Thaiday. They’ve been in the spotlight for a long time, so I just ask how they deal with it.
“They make sure I stay on my toes, that I’m grounded and my head doesn’t grow too big. They push me to keep doing what I’m doing, and not let the outside noise get to me.
“(The attention) comes with the territory of being a professional athlete and being in the public eye. It’s what you dream of as a kid. You can’t control what people are going to say.”
Pangai Jr was benched against the Warriors last week, as Bennett looked to start with some experience in Thaiday against the tough New Zealand pack, but he has been named to start again tomorrow against Melbourne Storm.
His front-row partner Matt Lodge is in doubt for the game with rib cartilage damage.
STILL RAW: Tevita Pangai Jr.