The high-profile trump card ready to fight for Pangai Jnr
Tevita Pangai Jr has told Brisbane bosses he wants to remain at Red Hill as club legend Darren Lockyer emerges as a pivotal figure in saving the controversial forward's career at the Broncos.
News Corp Australia understands Pangai Jr may yet receive a stay of execution with Lockyer throwing his support behind him in a stance that will ignite fierce boardroom debate over whether the forward should be sacked.
It can be revealed Pangai Jr held talks with Lockyer on Tuesday to discuss his future at the Broncos in the wake of his NRL-imposed $30,000 fine for COVID-guideline breaches.
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The Broncos board has formally issued the Tongan Test star a breach notice with a view to tearing up Pangai Jr's lucrative contract, which expires at the end of 2022 and is worth $2.1 million over the next three seasons.
Several Broncos board members, including chairman Karl Morris, believe Pangai Jr should be terminated with the club, giving him permission to negotiate with rival clubs immediately.
Despite interest from the Warriors and Parramatta, Pangai Jr has told Brisbane and his legal team he wants to honour his deal with the Broncos - and Lockyer shapes as a high-level trump card.
The most-capped player in Broncos history with 355 games, Lockyer provides the football intelligence on Brisbane's board and his backing of Pangai Jr could convince Broncos hierarchy to give him one last chance.
Lockyer has been working with Pangai Jr as part of the club's leadership-training program and believes the 24-year-old has the qualities to become a senior player of influence at the Broncos.
The Broncos slapped Pangai Jr with a show-cause notice last Wednesday.
Surprisingly, his COVID breaches, including attending a bikie-owner barber shop on August 8, were not mentioned in the Broncos correspondence.
Instead, the Broncos raised three matters against Pangai Jr - his raft of suspensions, his contact with Roosters chairman Nick Politis and his failure to attend a team BBQ on the same day as his barber-shop COVID breach.
Pangai Jr's legal team is in dialogue with Broncos chief executive Paul White. But Lockyer could shape as a crucial ally for Pangai Jr, especially after the Broncos legend revealed the club could do more to help the forward.
"We all have to accept some ownership for the situation," he said.
"Tevita has plenty to offer as a player.
"He has made some selfish choices on the field at times and he has made some selfish decisions off the field, but we can't put all the blame on Tevita.
"If he wants to fight to keep his contract here, that's a good sign."
Originally published as The high-profile trump card ready to fight for Pangai Jnr