Pangai holds off on Broncos call
TEVITA Pangai Jr says he will not be hurried into a contract decision even though the Broncos have effectively cleared the books to re-sign him.
Pangai is the most expensive retention target of the three most notable off-contract Broncos players after Kodi Nikorima was removed from their 2020 salary cap calculations last week.
The 23-year-old has been named as a bench player for Brisbane's vital clash with Manly on Friday night out of a belief his forte at the moment is in high-energy, hard-hitting stints rather than the starting role he was given last week.
Thomas Flegler was named as Pangai's replacement as lock.
Pangai, who has been sounded out by the Sydney Roosters, said his manager did not have a time frame in which to complete his next contract.
"I'll leave it to him. I'll probably make a decision based on where I think I can play my best footy and learn the most,'' Pangai said.
"Where I play my best footy is more important than money.''
Asked if he thought his best football would be in Brisbane, Pangai said: "I'd like to think so. I'll wait and see.''
Corey Oates and Alex Glenn are two other notable players off contract with Joe Ofahengaue agreeing to terms, but Pangai would require more of the salary cap pie than them to remain at Red Hill.
"If they give him enough money he might (re-sign),'' fellow prop Matt Lodge said.
"I won't be convincing him to leave.''
Like out-of-favour centre James Roberts, Lodge is a Sydneysider reported to be considering a return south, with the prop's contract expiring at the end of next year.
Lodge denies he is "homesick'' and insists he likes the Broncos as a club environment.
"You never know where you are going to be next year. You don't know what the club wants, but I love it at the moment,'' Lodge said.
Lodge has played 42 games, the most of any Broncos middle forward named for Friday night's Magic Round clash with Manly following the loss of Andrew McCullough for several weeks with a knee injury.
"It's one positive about having a youthful team - everyone is just excited to be at training. They are not a bit older and worn out,'' Lodge said.
"We started well last week and before we knew it (there were) two tries from kicks and then an intercept and we were kind of looking around (saying), 'what went wrong?'. We need to be more resilient and not let the game get away from us.''
Lodge said he appreciates how the Manly pack "compete for each other and get lots of offloads away''.
Manly and Australian forward Jake Trbojevic said his young teammates not accustomed to playing in front of 40,000-plus crowds might find their match at the Magic Round a "scary'' experience.
Manly won their 2018 double-header at Suncorp Stadium against Brisbane 38-24 before the Broncos home game in round 25 saw the result reversed.
"When I first played in one of the double-headers against the Broncos, it was scary to have that many people there, most of them wanting the Broncos to win,'' Trbojevic said.
"It was great to get experience of such an atmosphere when you're young. I look back at it and remember.
"It was a good win for us last season. We were going through a tough time in our season then and put in a really good performance.''