Pan­gai Jr keeps his head out of clouds

The Courier-Mail - - QUEENSLANDERS - RIKKI-LEE ARNOLD

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.

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