Bennett’s Rabbitohs primed to poach Pangai Jr
TEVITA Pangai Jr has emerged as South Sydney's first Broncos recruitment target, with the Rabbitohs hoping unwanted coach Wayne Bennett can lure the Tongan sensation to Redfern.
The Courier-Mail can reveal Pangai Jr is on South Sydney's hit-list of potential 2020 signings following confirmation from the Broncos forward he will only sign a one-year deal to remain in Brisbane.
Bennett will join the Rabbitohs on a two-year deal from 2020 and the pulling power of the seven-time premiership winning coach is expected to deliver big-name signings at South Sydney.
The likes of Broncos stars Pangai Jr, NSW Origin centre James Roberts, prop Matt Lodge and captain Darius Boyd have been open about the influence Bennett has had on their decision to join the Broncos.
The Rabbitohs launched an unsuccessful raid on Broncos young gun Jaydn Su'A this season, but with Bennett at the helm they could have the power to land Pangai Jr.
Pangai Jr, 22, phoned Bennett while playing for Canberra to express his desire to be coached by him at the Broncos.
And the fact he will only sign a one-year deal to remain at the Broncos in 2019 will allow the Rabbitohs to launch a poaching bid, regardless of whether Bennett is personally involved in luring Pangai Jr south.
Rabbitohs boss Shane Richardson said Bennett would give the 2014 NRL premiers enormous clout in the recruitment market.
"Wayne has pulling power with players," he said.
"Most of our players are signed for 2020. We're in the middle of negotiations with (Test hooker) Damien Cook, but Wayne will only help keeping him.
"The Burgess twins (Tom and George) are off-contract and they love being under Wayne in the England team so that is another plus for us.
"Wayne tells me he is committed to the Broncos next year and that's fine with us. We're happy with the status quo."
Pangai Jr confirmed to The Courier-Mail last week that he would re-sign with the Broncos in the coming weeks for the 2019 season.
But the NSW Origin hopeful was cryptic when asked if he would remain at the Broncos without Bennett at the helm.
"I love the Broncos but I have to do what's best for myself as an individual, so just the one year suits me," he said.
"We'll see what happens after that."
Bennett, 68, coached England to a 18-16 Test match win over New Zealand early yesterday.
The coach behind Brisbane's six premierships claimed there were players at the Broncos solely because of him.
"There's a number of players at the Broncos who have come specifically there to play because I'm the coach," he said.
"I'm not going to be the coach after (2019), but they're all big boys now and they've grown up so they'll have to make their own decisions about what they want to do."
While Boyd followed Bennett to the Dragons and Knights, it is unlikely he will join Bennett at South Sydney.
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