Players of Interest – Tevita Pangai Jr

So full disclosure, I’m only writing about Tevita Pangai Junior (TPJ) (FRF/2RF, $495,000) because we had a Twitter poll, and he won. Not because I don’t like TPJ. Far from it. He’s my unabashed man-crush and I’ve been waiting to pick him in my SuperCoach team since the first time I saw him play (which I eventually did from Round 1 last year). It’s more a case of, “why wouldn’t you?” and he’s already in around 47% of teams. However, that’s about 53% of you who are clueless, then!

Recent Statistics: 

2018: Games played: 21, MPG: 50.3, PPM: 1.11, Average: 52.9

2017:  Games played: 17, MPG: 26.3, PPM: 1.42, Average: 38.1

(N.B. 2018 featured multiple games with stints on the edge – usually resulting in a lower PPM, whereas 2017’s games were all in the middle)

Check out our other pre-season content below:

2019 Players of Interest: Read all of these here

2019 SuperCoach Club Previews: Read all of these here

TPJ is a beast of a human. As a comparison, Jason Taumalolo is 191 cm tall and 117 kg. TPJ is 190 cm tall and 113 kg (but three years younger!). TPJ has the physical ability and talent to be spoken of in the same category as the premium forwards in the game like Taumalolo – he just needs to stay healthy.

He takes big, powerful runs like Taumalolo. He busts tackles like Taumalolo. He carries opposition defenders like Taumalolo. He’s, at this stage, not as sturdy and dependable as Taumalolo, but what he does have over Lolo is his skill – TPJ has one heck of an offload and also possesses skill and awareness that is far above plenty of forwards in the NRL, let alone a forward of his age.

He studies the game as hard as anybody, and you can see the fruit of that study starting to show in his on-field performances. TPJ is also needed by the Broncos to be a leader of that young pack, and as the second most experienced of the ‘young brigade’ but arguably the most influential, he will be important.

Spending the early part of last season playing lower minutes before building to bigger minutes in the middle of the park (whether at prop or lock, it doesn’t matter for TPJ), he was given an opportunity to demonstrate his impressive work rate, as he showed his willingness to do the grunt work. He was also given opportunities on the edge where his attacking prowess shone through. This had the dual benefit of giving him more time on the ground, whether through covering for injuries in the middle or edge, or starting and playing the full game on the edge, or simply rotating through both positions throughout the game. Unfortunately, this didn’t always translate into great points, as TPJ was quite fragile in terms of injury and was wrapped in cotton wool by Bennett. More TPJ on the field is a win for everyone, and especially if we get to see him involved in more of the attack given Seibold’s track record so far.

What may actually benefit TPJ in 2019 is having a steady, dependable role in the middle (as basically confirmed by Anthony Seibold) where, as the starter, I’m expecting him to play – at the very least – 50 MPG but more likely than not, closer to 60 or even 65 MPG (depends on his health/fitness) given the Broncos’ losing McGuire (65+ MPG), Sims (40 MPG) and Thaiday (40 MPG). That’s all TPJ needs, and at the very, very bare FRF position, I expect him to be a good shot at being a top three FRF this season, competing with the likes of Fifita and Taupau.

The dual position status is the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae that is TPJ in 2019.

Check out the rest of our Players of Interest articles below: 

Greg Inglis

Jahrome Hughes

Clint Gutherson

Brett Morris

Kurt Mann

Michael Morgan

Matt Moylan

Esan Marsters

Josh Mansour

Daniel Alvaro

Alex Twal

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Catfish (Wilfred Zee) won the competition outright in 2016 and now writes weekly pieces for the Daily Telegraph.

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Boycee (@boycee)
1 year ago

Great write up. TPJ is the right kind of player. I think Offa will get the McGuire minutes and is a good buy too

marmalade (@marmalade)
1 year ago

What Mancrush CF? You covered it all, the kid has been an absolute wrecking ball since the Harold Matthews competition with the Knights (spare a thought for those 16 yo trying to handle him…) My only caution with him is his hamstrings, often they can be a chronic condition with some athletes, fingers crossed x. I think most people will have him so caution needs to be taken that you don’t also have another group of key players (think Sam Burgess who spent 4 of 9 weeks suspended early in the season in 2018) and others of the like. We… Read more »

Sorjas (@sorjas)
1 year ago

I was an early adopter of TPJ. What I didn’t like last year was his standing over injured players or heckling a player who made a mistake which creates an unnecessary fracas between opposition players and his team-mates. He needs to get that crap out of his game. Nothing wrong with controlled aggression, and I get that he’s young, but if he doesn’t curb that aspect of his game, I see him spending time on the sideline during a game for a 10 min rest or worse with a suspension. Watershed moment for TPJ. He’s a good young man with… Read more »

Ozman (@ozman)
1 year ago

Amazing write up mate, you would honestly walk into a journalist role at any paper in Australia!

talk of a possible increase to 65 mns fills me with joy, it would be amazing if he can pick up McGuire’s minutes!

Ozman (@ozman)
Reply to  Catfish
1 year ago

60 mins is all he needs IMO, more impact to run at tired forward. 65 mins would be a massive bonus!

Bulldog Express
Bulldog Express (@dener3)
1 year ago

I haven’t heard someone talk as lovingly about a player as this, since Bill Lawry used to talk about Shane Warne. I just hope one day my wife will look at me in the same way catfish does TPJ

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