Broncos make stunning decision on Pangai’s future
Tevita Pangai Jnr is set to get a second chance in Brisbane but there will be no happy homecoming for Wayne Bennett as the Broncos board meet on Monday to discuss their plans for a new coach.
Pangai Jnr argued his case before the Broncos board on Friday and while he is set to be heavily sanctioned for a series of biosecurity breaches, The Australian understands his contract will not be torn up.
He is already sidelined until at least September 8 under the terms of his ban from the NRL and it would be a major surprise if he plays again this season.
In the absence of terminating his deal, the Broncos have the option to suspend him for an extended period or fine Pangai Jnr as much as one-quarter of his $650,000 contract.
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Regardless, he will be in a Brisbane jersey next season after presenting a compelling case to retain his contract. In a sign of his commitment to the club, it is understood Pangai Jnr has placed himself in quarantine as he proves to officials that he can adhere to the strict rules governing the game's return from COVID.
His legal team, who were at the meeting with the board on Friday, are also believed to have pointed out that on the Richter scale of offences, Pangai Jnr was at the lower end - he hadn't assaulted anyone, he hadn't been in trouble with the law, he hadn't failed a drug test.
He had made some poor decisions, but they were confined to a short period as he allowed his standards to drop. News that Pangai Jnr will be at the club next season will be welcomed by the incoming coach given the Broncos have already lost one of their back rowers - David Fifita, who will join the Gold Coast Titans.
The Broncos board will decide on a process for replacing Anthony Seibold on Monday but it seems a formality that the appointment will be a race of two, with club legend Kevin Walters and former North Queensland coach Paul Green expected to compete for the job.
Bennett, who left the Broncos at the end of 2018 in controversial circumstances and has waged war on senior officials ever since, was mooted for a potential return as part of a new coaching structure with Walters.
However, there appears little appetite at the Broncos for Bennett's return despite his legendary status at the club. Even if there was, Bennett has another year remaining on his deal at South Sydney and has insisted regularly that he will see out his deal with the Rabbitohs. Former player Ben Ikin, a leading contender to replace Paul White as chief executive at the Broncos, has advised against bringing the seven-time premiership winner back to Brisbane.
"No it's not a model I would push for," Ikin told The Sunday Ticket on Fox League.
"I think Wayne's time at the Brisbane Broncos is done. He's had two stints, he's achieved much success. If you're going to do anything with Wayne at the club you're going to celebrate his legacy and not much more than that.
"At his core, at the centre of his being, Wayne Bennett is a coach. To think he's going to come back into a senior coaching director's role, and sort of not get his hands dirty while peering over the shoulder of a first-time NRL coach like Kevvie Walters … even if Paul Green gets the job, for Wayne to fill that role I think would be too big a distraction for the football program.
"He's got such a huge personality, and based on some of the bad blood that's unfolded in recent times I don't think it's something the club needs to do.
"If you're going to give the job to Kevvie Walters I would much prefer to see a model where rather than get a senior coaching director over the top, get some really experienced assistants to support Kev.
"So he feels at that club, if he ends up as coach, that he can do it his way, not Wayne's way."
Meanwhile, Canberra will lobby the ACT Government on Monday to increase GIO Stadium's crowd capacity to 50 per cent for Sonny Bill Williams' massive comeback match for Sydney Roosters against the Raiders this Saturday night.
Originally published as Broncos make stunning decision on Pangai's future