The rumours connecting Tevita Pangai Jr to the Dolphins are intensifying despite the shock announcement about his retirement last week. Pangai Jr, a prominent Bulldogs player, made headlines when he voiced plans to quit his $750,000 contract after the season to focus on professional boxing. The former Broncos star, however, is expected to return to Brisbane, his original stomping ground.
Speculation is high that Pangai Jr could join forces with Wayne Bennett, the Dolphins coach who also coached him during his tenure at the Broncos. The possibility of a reunion is stronger than ever, especially given the current circumstance.
It should be noted that Pangai Jr debuted for NSW this year and has also played for Tonga under the guidance of Kristian Wolf. Coincidentally, Wolf is presently the assistant coach for the Dolphins.
Ben Dobbin, a sports journalist, pointed out the aligning factors that may lead to Pangai Jr joining the Dolphins. He highlighted Pangai Jr’s journey as a Brisbane Bronco, his stints in Newcastle and Penrith, and his controversial exit from the Broncos due to his perceived destabilising presence.
Pangai Jr’s decision to retire from rugby league to pursue boxing was a shock, especially considering his NSW Origin participation just a few months back. Dobbin suggests the planned move back to Queensland could be a strategic one as the Bulldogs are in need of salary cap space and reconciling with his past errors including leaving the Broncos.
Dobbin highlighted the connection between Pangai Jr’s former coach, Wayne Bennett, now the Dolphins coach, and his potential return to Queensland. Further he shed light on another influencing factor: the Tongan heritage of Pangai Jr and his relationship with Dolphins assistant coach and Tongan team coach, Kristian Wolf — a former boxer himself.
When contacted by Dobbin, Dolphins CEO Terry Reader indicated that the club was open to discussing a potential deal with Pangai Jr in line with Bennett’s comments. A definitive decision, however, hasn’t been made yet. Reader suggested that the club is always on the lookout for quality players who align with their standards.
Dobbin also ruled out the possibility of Pangai Jr returning to the Broncos under Kevin Walters and pointed out that the Dolphins had ample cap space potentially to sign him for around $600,000. According to his observations, all signs point towards Pangai Jr moving to the Dolphins.