Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler was impressed by the way Tevita Pangai Junior destroyed the North Queensland Cowboys on Friday night. Now he wants to see what the Brisbane Broncos wrecking ball does next before declaring him a certainty for the State of Origin team this year.
Pangai Junior was a man on a mission in the Queensland derby after terrorising the Cowboys team - including man mountain Jason Taumalolo – into submission. He was fittingly named the Man of the Match for his performance which included a try where he swatted defenders away close to the line.
Fittler, who was at Suncorp Stadium in line with his role as a commentator for Channel Nine, named Pangai Junior in an extended Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues squad before Christmas and said the key for the barnstorming forward now was to “back it up”.
“You get these young blokes and people will drive them now every week about Origin,” Fittler told Channel Nine.
“What we spoke about last year is the best Origin players are the best club players and his biggest game is going to be next week.
“Getting up to play against Jason Taumalolo is not probably that hard a thing for Tevita Pangai Junior because he’s a very talented person and obviously he can get his head right and provide something (like he did).
“The hard game for him is going to be next week playing against St George Illawarra. They’ve got a couple of injuries, they’re not going that great and a lot of people are talking about the Dragons and what they’re doing with all their players.
“His challenge is to back it up.”
Fellow Channel Nine commentator Billy Slater said he was impressed by Pangai Junior’s humility after the Broncos forward said after the match he was ignoring the Origin hype about him.
“Gus (Phil Gould) mentioned during the call that it was an arrogant performance and it certainly was an arrogant performance on the field but it’s been quite humble and there’s a lot of humility with him off the field,” Slater said.
“That’s a great sign of his character. He’s obviously a mature young man and he’s played out of his skin tonight so if he continues that form I’m sure he’ll be in the NSW side somewhere.”