Tevita Pangai Jnr will be awelcome boost for the Broncos. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Tevita Pangai Jnr will be awelcome boost for the Broncos. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

Real reason $1m NRL beast benched

LATE changes to team lists for the opening round of the NRL season have thrown up some dramatic storylines.

None are bigger than a report which claims the Broncos are playing a dangerous game of tough love with star forward Tevita Pangai Junior.

The emerging wrecking ball, who is expected to be considered for NSW in this year's State of Origin series, remains uncontracted beyond this year.

Pangai has been named to start the season on the bench for the Broncos after coach Anthony Seibold made the call to keep Matt Gillett in the lock position, dropping Pangai to the bench behind a starting pack featuring Matt Lodge, Joe Ofahengaue, Alex Glenn and Jaydn Su'A.

It has now been reported by Channel 7 rugby league journalist Chris Garry the Broncos' move to demote Pangai in the middle of their contract negotiations could be a play to "knock him down a few pegs".

The report claims some Broncos officials were concerned that the 23-year-old was beginning to develop a big head after a breakthrough 2018 season.

It is a high-stakes gamble from the Broncos, who may also be looking to diminish Pangai's value on the open market in a bid to retain the star forward on a deal that will keep them under the salary cap for 2020.

Tevita Pangai has battled a hamstring issue during the pre-season. Picture: AAP
Tevita Pangai has battled a hamstring issue during the pre-season. Picture: AAP

"One player really worth keeping an eye on, not just for tonight, but for the whole season, that's Tevita Pangai Jnr," Garry said.

"He's coming off the bench. He's off contract this year. I get the sense they're trying to knock him down a few pegs at the moment. There's been some reports and rumours circulating that he got a big head towards the end of last year. I find him a fantastic guy, so it seems a bit strange to me.

"He's off contract this year and starting the season on the bench, I expect him to court offers of around $800,000 to $1 million per season and I just wonder if the Broncos are going to be able to match that and I wonder if they want to match that and how much it will upset him starting off the bench to begin the season."

The revelation comes after Seibold said he has seen enough of Pangai as an opposition coach to trust him with a round one berth despite his hobbled NRL pre-season.

The exciting forward has battled hamstring issues throughout his young career and had Broncos fans holding their breath when he limped off early in a trial game last month.

Anthony Seibold is happy to play Tevita Pangai Jnr but has benched him for the opening round. Image: AAP Image/Darren England
Anthony Seibold is happy to play Tevita Pangai Jnr but has benched him for the opening round. Image: AAP Image/Darren England

Seibold, however, said earlier this week he has full faith in Pangai's ability to hit the ground running, despite his limited pre-season.

Pangai's interesting situation headlines the late mail heading into the season opener on Thursday night between the Storm and Broncos, including:

- Storm forward Christian Welch may be promoted to start at prop ahead of Kiwi star Jesse Bromwich

- Rabbitohs star Greg Inglis has been cleared by coach Wayne Bennett to line-up against Lattrell Mitchell

- Star Roosters recruit Angus Crichton will make his club debut off the bench

- Wests Tigers stars Josh Morris and Matt Eisenhuth will play in the NSW Cup.

- Eels monster Junior Paulo continues to battle a hamstring issue and may be rested for Parramatta's season opener.

Here are all the latest NRL team lists.

Melbourne Storm vs Brisbane Broncos

Thursday at AAMI Park, 7.50pm

Andrew Johns says David Fifita could be a “once in a generational” talent.
Andrew Johns says David Fifita could be a “once in a generational” talent.

STORM:

Jahrome Hughes, Suliasi Vunivalu, Will Chambers, CurtisScott, Josh Addo-Carr, Cameron Munster, Brodie Croft, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Felise Kaufusi,Kenneath Bromwich, Dale Finucane. Interchange: Brandon Smith, Christian Welch, Tui Kamikamica, Patrick Kaufusi. Reserves:Ryan Papenhuyzen, Tom Eisenhuth, Billy Walters. Marion Seve.

BRONCOS:

Darius Boyd, Corey Oates, James Roberts, Jack Bird, Jamayne Isaako, Anthony Milford, Kodi Nikorima, Matthew Lodge,Andrew McCullough, Joe Ofahengaue, Alex Glenn, Jaydn Su'A, Matt Gillett. Interchange: Kotoni Staggs, David Fifita, ThomasFlegler, Tevita Pangai Junior. Reserves: Shaun Fensom, Patrick Carrigan, Sean O'Sullivan, Gehamat Shibasaki.

Newcastle Knights vs Cronulla Sharks

Friday at McDonald Jones Stadium, 6.00pm

KNIGHTS: Connor Watson, Edrick Lee, Jesse Ramien,Hymen Hunt, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Kalyn Ponga, Mitchell Pearce, David Klemmer, Danny Levi, James Gavet, Lachlan Fitzgibbon,Sione Mata'utia, Tim Glasby. Interchange: Kurt Mann, Aidan Guerra, Mitch Barnett Daniel Saifiti. Reserves: Jamie Buhrer, HermanEse'ese, Josh King, Brodie Jones.

SHARKS: Matt Moylan, Sosaia Feki, Josh Dugan, Josh Morris, Sione Katoa, Shaun Johnson, Chad Townsend, Andrew Fifita, JaydenBrailey, Matt Prior, Briton Nikora, Kurt Capewell, Paul Gallen. Interchange: Blayke Brailey, Jayson Bukuya, Aaron Woods, JackWilliams.

Reserves: Scott Sorensen, Kyle Flanagan, Bronson Xerri, Braden Hamlin-Uele.

 

Greg Inglis won’t be kept in cotton wool.
Greg Inglis won’t be kept in cotton wool.

Sydney Roosters vs South Sydney Rabbitohs

Friday at Sydney Cricket Ground, 7.55pm

ROOSTERS: James Tedesco, Daniel Tupou, Latrell Mitchell,Joseph Manu, Brett Morris, Luke Keary, Cooper Cronk, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend (c), Siosiua Taukeiaho, Boyd Cordner(c), Mitchell Aubusson, Victor Radley. Interchange: Isaac Liu, Zane Tetevano, Lindsay Collins, Angus Crichton. Reserves: NatButcher, Matthew Ikuvalu, Lachlan Lam, Poasa Faamausili.

RABBITOHS: Alex Johnston, Dane Gagai, Greg Inglis (c), Braidon Burns, Campbell Graham, Cody Walker, Adam Reynolds, Tevita Junior Tatola, Damien Cook, Thomas Burgess, John Sutton, Sam Burgess, Cameron Murray. Interchange: Liam Knight, Mark Nicholls,Ethan Lowe, Corey Allan. Reserves: Kyle Turner, Connor Tracey, Rhys Kennedy, Mawene Hiroti.

New Zealand Warriors vs Canterbury Bulldogs

Saturday at Mt Smart Stadium, 3.00pm

WARRIORS: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c), David Fusitu'a,Peta Hiku, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo, Adam Keighran, Blake Green, Agnatius Paasi, Nathaniel Roache, Bunty Afoa, Adam Blair,Tohu Harris, Lachlan Burr. Interchange: Jazz Tevaga, Sam Lisone, Leeson Ah Mau, Blake Ayshford. Reserves: Gerard Beale, LigiSao, Karl Lawton, Chanel Harris-Tavita.

BULLDOGS: Will Hopoate, Christian Crichton, Kerrod Holland, Marcelo Montoya, Reimis Smith, Kieran Foran, Lachlan Lewis, AidenTolman, Michael Lichaa, Dylan Napa, Josh Jackson, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Adam Elliott. Interchange: Jeremy Marshall-King,Danny Fualalo, Corey Harawira-Naera, Sauaso Sue. Reserves: Jack Cogger, Nick Meaney, Chris Smith, Ofahiki Ogden.

Wests Tigers vs Manly Sea Eagles

Saturday at Leichhardt Oval, 5.30pm

TIGERS: Corey Thompson, Mahe Fonua, Paul Momirovski, Esan Marsters,Robert Jennings, Benji Marshall (c), Luke Brooks, Ben Matulino, Robbie Farah, Alex Twal, Ryan Matterson, Luke Garner, ElijahTaylor. Interchange: Russell Packer, Thomas Mikaele, Josh Aloiai, Michael Chee-Kam. Reserves: Josh Reynolds, Matthew Eisenhuth,Jacob Liddle, Chris McQueen.

SEA EAGLES: Brendan Elliot, Jorge Taufua, Moses Suli, Brad Parker, Reuben Garrick, Kane Elgey, Daly Cherry-Evans (c), AddinFonua-Blake, Apisai Koroisau, Martin Taupau, Joel Thompson, Curtis Sironen, Jake Trbojevic. Interchange: Trent Hodkinson,Jack Gosiewski, Kelepi Tanginoa, Toafofoa Sipley. Reserves: Tevita Funa, Cade Cust, Lloyd Perrett, Lachlan Croker.

Gareth Widdop will be at the centre of the Dragons re-shuffle.
Gareth Widdop will be at the centre of the Dragons re-shuffle.

North Queensland vs St George Illawarra

Saturday at 1300SMILES Stadium, 7.35pm

COWBOYS: Jordan Kahu, Javid Bowen, JustinO'Neill, Tom Opacic, Nene Macdonald, Te Maire Martin, Michael Morgan, Matthew Scott, Jake Granville, Jordan McLean, GavinCooper, Coen Hess, Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: John Asiata, Josh McGuire, Mitchell Dunn, Francis Molo. Reserves: Ben Hampton,Jake Clifford, Gideon Gela-Mosby, Enari Tuala.

DRAGONS: Gareth Widdop, Jordan Pereira, Euan Aitken, Timoteo Lafai, Mikaele Ravalawa, Corey Norman, Ben Hunt, James Graham,Cameron McInnes, Paul Vaughan, Jacob Host, Tariq Sims, Tyson Frizell. Interchange: Jeremy Latimore, Matthew Dufty, Blake Lewis,Luciano Leifua. Reserves: Zac Lomax, Josh Kerr, Reece Robson, Jonus Pearson.

Penrith Panthers vs Parramatta Eels

Sunday at Panthers Stadium, 4.05pm

PANTHERS: Dylan Edwards, Josh Mansour, Dean Whare, WaqaBlake, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, James Maloney, Nathan Cleary, James Tamou, Sione Katoa, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Jack Hetherington,Isaah Yeo, James Fisher-Harris. Interchange: Wayde Egan, Tyrell Fuimaono, Moses Leota, Hame Sele. Reserves: Jarome Luai, TimGrant, Liam Martin, Malakai Watene-Zelezniak.

EELS: Clinton Gutherson, Maika Sivo, Michael Jennings, Brad Takairangi, Blake Ferguson, Dylan Brown, Mitchell Moses, DanielAlvaro, Reed Mahoney, Tepai Moeroa, Shaun Lane, Marata Niukore, Nathan Brown. Interchange: Will Smith, Tim Mannah, Kane Evans,David Gower. Reserves: Josh Hoffman, Oregon Kaufusi, Bevan French, Junior Paulo.

Gold Coast Titans vs Canberra Raiders

Sunday at Cbus Super Stadium, 6.10pm

TITANS: Michael Gordon, Brenko Lee, Tyrone Peachey, BrianKelly, Phillip Sami, Tyrone Roberts, Ashley Taylor, Jarrod Wallace, Nathan Peats, Shannon Boyd, Kevin Proctor, Ryan James,Jai Arrow.

Interchange: Alexander Brimson, Moeaki Fotuaika, Max King, Bryce Cartwright. Reserves: Mitch Rein, Dale Copley, Anthony Don,Keegan Hipgrave.

RAIDERS: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Nick Cotric, Jarrod Croker (c), Joseph Leilua, Bailey Simonsson, Jack Wighton, Aidan Sezer,Josh Papalii, Josh Hodgson (c), Iosia Soliola, Joseph Tapine, Elliott Whitehead, John Bateman. Interchange: Siliva Havili,Ryan Sutton, Dunamis Lui, Corey Horsburgh. Reserves: Sam Williams, Jack Murchie, Luke Bateman, JJ Collins.

- with AAP

News Corp Australia


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