Queanbeyan Blues forward David Pangai kicks himself regularly over squandering his chance at the big time.
Cast adrift by four NRL clubs due to off-field issues, the 26-year-old is determined to help his younger brothers avoid the same mistakes at the Canberra Raiders.
Pangai gave a glimpse of what could have been with two skillful tries in the Blues’ 43-10 major semi win over Queanbeyan Kangaroos at Seiffert Oval on Sunday.
His siblings Tevita, Tahakilu and Mosese are all at the Raiders, with back rower Tevita in particular rated a star of the future.
The 18-year-old has already graduated to NSW Cup with Mounties, and represented the NSW under-18s earlier this year.
It is understood Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was keen to give him a taste of first grade this season, before second-tier salary cap issues intervened.
David is determined to use his experiences to help his brothers avoid the same pitfalls that stopped his NRL career from getting off the ground.
“I came here first for work and I decided to bring the boys down to train hard, and now they’ve got a go with the Raiders,” Pangai said.
“I’ve been at a number of clubs, but never got a chance to crack it because of off-field discipline.
“Tevita has improved a lot since coming down from Newcastle, and he’s got a big reputation at the Raiders. I told him to just use me as an example. I could have been there and done that, but don’t choose the paths I took.
“We talk about the experiences I had and what not to do. I’m helping him along the way.”
David, who tips the scales at about 120kg, showcased the footwork, offloading skills and agility against the Kangaroos which first caught the eye of Wests Tigers, Roosters, North Queensland and Newcastle.
“Both tries he scored, not many players that size can score those with the ease he did,” Blues coach Simon Woolford said.
The Roos scored early through hooker Josh Mitchell and looked the better team in the opening minutes.
But a Blues drop-out which found touch turned the match on its head.
With the left edge combination between five-eighth Marc Herbert and centre Tyler Stevens running riot, the Blues piled on five unanswered tries to lead 26-4.
It was 20 minutes of dominance which broke the game wide open, and ensured they became the first team to make the Canberra Raiders Cup grand final.
The Kangaroos will host Goulburn in this Sunday’s preliminary final at Freebody Oval, and are not panicking despite the heavy loss.
The winner of the major semi has a horror record in the decider in recent years. Last year the Roos bounced back from losing the major semi to their cross-town rivals by upsetting them in the grand final.
“That was probably the worst we’ve played in a long time. I guess the only positive is the first team in hasn’t won the grand final for a while,” Roos five-eighth Jordan Macey said.
“I think the mind games might come into things now with the Blues.”
The Blues didn’t belt out their team song after the game after it was scrapped following a directive from Country Rugby League clubs face harsh punishments if they sing crude songs.
Woolford is hopeful the sheds won’t be as quiet after the grand final, and they atone for last year’s disappointment.
“Hopefully we’ll have something in two weeks time. If we win we’ll be singing something, don’t worry about that,” Woolford said.
“We might just cut a bit of it out, or replace some words.”
QUEANBEYAN BLUES 43 (Leu Saipani 2, David Pangai 2, Jake Wheeler, Jake Knight, Tyler Stevens, Marc Herbert tries; Herbert 5 goals; Herbert field goal) bt Queanbeyan Kangaroos 10 (Josh Mitchell, Richard Kelly tries; Jordan Macey goal)
Sunday: Preliminary final – Queanbeyan Kangaroos v Goulburn Bulldogs at Seiffert Oval, 3pm
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