Tongan Tevita Pangai (C) could make the NSW Origin squad if he switches to playing for .Rugby league Test lock Josh McGuire says Tevita Pangai wouldn’t look out of place in green and gold – but he can’t stomach the idea of his Brisbane teammate as a Blue.
Pangai’s allegiances may soon be tested with the Kangaroos set to consider picking the hulking Broncos back-rower for the end of season -Tonga Test in New Zealand.
Pangai has stayed loyal to Tonga following their 2017 World Cup semi-final success, reportedly knocking back NSW Origin interest this year to remain eligible for the Mate Ma’a.
The move appeared to backfire when Pangai was forced to withdraw from Tonga’s Pacific Test win over Samoa in June with a rib complaint then watched NSW clinch their second Origin series triumph in 13 years.
Kangaroos forward McGuire did his best to tempt Pangai to make the switch before running out together for the Broncos’ NRL elimination final against St George Illawarra on Sunday.
However, Queensland No.13 McGuire realised Pangai’s defection may come at a high price – seeing his Sydney-born teammate play for NSW.
“It’s good for the game he has pledged to Tonga but he wouldn’t look out of place in the green and gold jersey,” McGuire said.
“If he plays for NSW, I wouldn’t be a massive fan of that to be honest.
“But we have a wealth of riches with young forwards at the club and he is one who has taken the year by storm.”
It is not just the Kangaroos who have Pangai in their sights.
The off-contract 22-year-old recently flew to Newcastle to meet with the Knights while another four clubs have registered interest after his breakout season.
Some Sydney-based clubs are reportedly offering Pangai $800,000 per season.
The Broncos may struggle to compete with big money offers after re-signing youngsters Jaydn Su’A, Payne Haas and Jamayne Isaako while upgrading Test back-rower Matt Gillett’s contract.
McGuire kept his fingers crossed that Brisbane would retain Pangai along with another breakout star of the 2018 season – prop Matt Lodge.
McGuire said Lodge had shown form worthy of State of Origin selection in his first NRL season in four years after he was involved in a drunken home invasion in New York in 2015.
“I have never seen a player have so much pressure on him and perform at such a high level for a young fella,” McGuire said.
“He is definitely of Origin calibre.
“I am glad he didn’t get chucked in the mix this year because he didn’t need that added pressure but I would be very surprised if I don’t see him there next year.”