Tevita Pangai Jnr led the way early for the Broncos despite battling a hamstring injury. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Tevita Pangai Jnr led the way early for the Broncos despite battling a hamstring injury. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Bennett begged TPJ to play

BRONCOS beast Tevita Pangai Jr has revealed coach Wayne Bennett begged him to play through a hamstring injury in Brisbane's demolition of the Panthers.

Pangai Jr was sensational for Brisbane in last Friday's 50-18 thumping of Penrith at Suncorp Stadium to catapult the Broncos back into top-four calculations.

The 22-year-old forward scored two tries and terrorised the Panthers in his return from a hamstring injury after sitting out Brisbane's shock loss to the Warriors.

Pangai Jr has become the barometer of Brisbane this season, firing the Broncos to victory and watching them struggle when he has been sidelined with hamstring and rib injuries.

Pangai Jr's hamstring injury is nerve-related rather than a traditional tear, so there is lesser chance of suffering a potentially serious injury.

The Tongan international said he pulled up sore after the Broncos' pre-game training run and told Bennett he wanted to sit out, only for the 806-game super coach to beg him to take the field.

Pangai Junior destroyed the Panthers in a blistering opening 30 minutes. AAP Image/Dave Hunt.
Pangai Junior destroyed the Panthers in a blistering opening 30 minutes. AAP Image/Dave Hunt.

"I wasn't going to play," Pangai Jr said.

"Wayne and I had a talk. He called me up after the captain's run and I said 'it's still feeling pretty tight'.

"I wasn't really confident about playing but we really needed to win this game and get some form back. After last week's disappointment with the fans we wanted to make sure we got a win.

"I tried to (say no) but the big fella wanted me to play. I tried to do my job and get the boys rolling.

"I was glad he made me play and I got 30 minutes in."

Pangai Jr has had a breakout season for the Broncos to earn comparisons with powerhouse Cowboys forward Jason Taumalolo.

Pangai Junior has drawn comparisons to Jason Taumalolo. AAP Image/Michael Chambers.
Pangai Junior has drawn comparisons to Jason Taumalolo. AAP Image/Michael Chambers.

He is as hard a forward to contain as there is in the game, rarely racking up big numbers but instead providing immeasurable impact with the ball.

Sensing the importance of beating the Panthers after the Warriors debacle, Bennett gambled on Pangai Jr and the Broncos must now hope he can back-up on a short turnaround to face Cronulla at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night.

"Hopefully it gets better over the next couple of weeks," Pangai Jr said.

"I'm pretty confident it will be right for next week. It's just a little tight.

"I don't want to be known for (being injured regularly). Hopefully I can get it right and play footy week-in, week-out.

"It's been pretty frustrating over the last month with my rib and hamstring injuries.

"I want to get a couple of games together. This is the best time of the year so you want to be pretty clear-minded.

"This is a distraction but hopefully I can overcome it and finish the year off strong."



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