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How Taumalolo's advice changed Pangai's game

Tevita Pangai jnr has credited Jason Taumalolo's advice to ditch fancy football and focus on simply running hard for transforming his game, as Broncos teammate Corey Oates declared he was ready to shine at State of Origin level.

Pangai inspired the Broncos' 29-10 win over the Cowboys as a starting prop in the best game of his career where his ferocious hits on Taumalolo and company, combined with his rampaging charges, rocked Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

The Tongan international is in NSW coach Brad Fittler's sights to make his Origin debut this year and was invited to attend a Blues camp late last year.

Oates, the incumbent Maroons left winger, said Pangai was "100 per cent" on track to become the best forward in the game and play for NSW this year.

"Look at what he did tonight. He can be whatever he wants to be," Oates said.

"I think he is [ready for Origin]. It is up to him to show them what he is made of and if he can do what he did tonight consistently then I reckon he is ready.

“He’s big, fast and fit. He just dominated their forward pack. He can change games with what he can bring to a team. With his size and his speed he is Jason Taumalolo-like."

Cowboys lock Jason Taumalolo.
Cowboys lock Jason Taumalolo. ©Jason O'Brien/NRL Photos

Pangai, who has ball skills to go with his power, said he was guilty in the past of trying to be "too fancy" but had heeded the words of Taumalolo during and after the 2017 World Cup.

"I used to try and get a bit too fancy and [Taumalolo] was always in my ear to run the ball hard first," Pangai said.

"Then after the World Cup of 2017 he told me to run hard, and that is what I have been focusing on ever since and not having too many things in my head. That's his strength, and that's my game.

"The season I was coming off in 2017 I wasn't really a week-in and week-out player. I learned a lot from Jase and Andrew Fifita. We are all Tongans and we just try and use our power. Seibs [Anthony Seibold] wants me to run hard and tackle hard. That is my simple job."

The hit on Taumalolo in the opening 10 minutes, which doubled Pangai's Tongan teammate backwards, had to to made.

"He is a hard man to handle. They call him 'King of Tonga' for a reason. He is going to be an Immortal one day," Pangai shrugged when asked about lining his good mate up.

"We missed Matt Lodge this week through suspension so I had to step up. They are a handy pack with Jase, Josh McGuire, Matt Scott … and the list goes on."

Match Highlights: Broncos v Cowboys

Pangai is off contract this year but he said there was only one focus for him for the rest of the season.

"I just try and do my job and earn my teammates' respect every week. That is something I've got to do because I haven't been too consistent," he said.

"We are a young team and we have got to be consistent. We've got another 23 rounds to show that.

"We have still got some senior players and veterans in Matt Gillett and Andrew McCullough and we just try and follow their lead and play with energy."

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Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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