Knights to launch Broncos raid
BRONCOS coach Wayne Bennett is facing a fresh attack from Nathan Brown, with the Newcastle boss revealing he has launched a poaching bid for Brisbane's best young forward, Tevita Pangai Jr.
Brown confirmed his interest in Pangai Jr with The Courier-Mail on Wednesday, and will ramp-up his pursuit of the off-contract Bronco in the wake of Brisbane's season-ending 48-18 finals implosion to the Dragons last Sunday.
Brown and Bennett were embroiled in the most explosive coaching feud of the season in April when the Newcastle mentor made a savage remark about the super coach's personal life during his stint at the Knights.
Now Brown is putting renewed pressure on Bennett and the Broncos, who face a multi-million dollar battle to keep Pangai Jr - a Newcastle junior - away from the Knights.
The Broncos are supremely confident of signing Pangai Jr to a new deal, but Brown has a history of luring Queensland-based stars after snatching Kalyn Ponga from the Cowboys and Herman Ese Ese from Brisbane last year.
"I'm interested in Tevita," said Brown, who met with the Broncos powerhouse a fortnight ago after Pangai Jr flew south to inspect Newcastle's set-up.
"Tevita is a Newcastle boy and he knows this area well, so he would be a great player for us to get.
"We're going through the process at the moment. We've told Tevita we are definitely interested in him.
"We are prepared to make him an offer, but first we need to know if Tevita wants to leave the Broncos and he is also in a management dispute, so it's hard for any club to negotiate with him at the moment.
"But we'd love to have him here. Tevita can add some real aggression to our pack."
The Tongan international has fielded $3.2 million offers from Sydney clubs worth $800,000 a season.
Pangai Jr will finalise his future in November, when he formally severs ties with his management group.
The 22-year-old has a history with the Knights. Pangai Jr played local football for South Newcastle Lions before being snapped up by Knights scouts for $1000 as a 15-year-old in 2011 and placed in the club's junior grades.
Salary-cap pressures will test the Broncos, who have also yet to re-sign Maroons winger Corey Oates and prop Matt Lodge, but Brown concedes it will not be easy to prise Pangai Jr out of Red Hill.
"Tevita is playing great footy at Brisbane and seems like he is reasonably happy, so it will be hard to get him out of that," Brown said.
"Brisbane will no doubt do their sums. They have so many good players and that's the challenge for any club to keep their stars.
"We have some room in the cap. We are more interested in the type of player Tevita is rather than the position he plays. I would want him on the field for as long as possible because he is just such an impact player."
Broncos skipper Darius Boyd urged Pangai Jr to stay loyal.
"The sky is the limit for Tevita," he said. "He has a great work ethic and football brain and I hope the Broncos can keep him."