Tevita Pangai Junior prioritises New South Wales over Tonga

Brisbane front-rower Tevita Pangai Junior has a chance of making the New South Wales team in 2019 after committing to his state over Tonga.

Blues’ coach Brad Fittler selected Pangai Junior in his 32-man train-on squad for NSW last week.

But the barnstorming front-rower chose Tonga over the Blues for the mid-season Test against Samoa, only to miss the game with a rib injury.

He played in Tonga’s end-of-season Test match against Australia in Auckland but has confirmed to Fittler that he will miss an opportunity to represent the Mate Ma’a in the 2019 mid-season Test for the chance to play for the Blues.

Pangai Junior is of Tongan descent but played his junior rugby in the Newcastle competition and has previously played for Australia’s Under-20s.

Fittler told 9News: “He’s committing to the Blues for the series this year.

“He understands that there’s a Tongan Test match in the middle of that and he’s happy to walk away from that, but he’ll get the opportunity to play for Tonga at the end of the year.

“He recognises where he’s from, he grew up in Newcastle. He’s a really good player, young kid, he did a fantastic job for Tonga again.

“I look forward to seeing him come down, meet all the players and he’ll put a lot of pressure on the team.”