The inclusion of Blues debutant Tevita Pangai Junior has caused quite the stir in the State of Origin arena. Many are excited to see the late bloomer, who is 27 years old, bring some much-needed aggression to the forwards on Wednesday night. Paul ‘Chief’ Harragon, who is infamous for never taking a backward step against Queensland, is particularly thrilled to see Pangai unleashed on the Origin stage. Harragon commented that he is a big fan of the enforcer and his inclusion is just what the Blues need. He went on to say that if Pangai is on song, he has the ability to dominate the whole game from the front row.
Harragon, who attended Tuesday’s official media conference in Adelaide’s Rundle Mall, shared his advice for Pangai before he ran out for his maiden Origin performance. He emphasized the sense of occasion and advised Pangai to think of the best game he’s ever played and strive for that ideal performance. The Origin arena is all about will, and if anyone has a big wad of that, it’s Pangai.
Canterbury coach Cameron Ciraldo, who is a long-time fan of Pangai, echoed the sentiments about his Blues call-up. He praised Pangai for investing a lot of time over the last six months working on his mindset and becoming a better football player. Ciraldo also mentioned that Pangai has developed a real understanding of his own identity and the value he brings to a team.
Despite the hype surrounding Pangai’s aggression, Blues coach Brad Fittler confirmed that there is more to his game. He mentioned that a lot of people assume he’ll go out and play a certain way, but he just needs to do his best, be controlled, and be good for the team. Fittler also revealed that he didn’t realize how close Pangai is to another Blues forward, Payne Haas, which has been a blessing for the team as they’ve been inseparable.
Queensland is yet to confirm who will start in their front row, with Lindsay Collins and Tom Flegler named, but Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Jai Arrow, Reuben Cotter, and even starting back-rower Tom Gilbert all options. All eyes will be on Pangai as he prepares to make his mark on the Origin stage.