A remorseful Tevita Pangai Jr has broken his silence on breaching COVID-19 protocols to visit a barbershop, a decision which resulted in him being stood down by both the Brisbane Broncos and the NRL.
The 24-year-old was issued a breach notice by the NRL and fined $30,000 for his “failure to comply with the code’s biosecurity protocols”.
While there was a school of thought that Pangai Jr was acting out in a bid to secure a move to a rival club, most notably the Roosters, the Broncos star reaffirmed his commitment to the club, hitting out at suggestions he bad-mouthed Brisbane.
“I never said anything about the club being a basket case, I never even used that word, but yeah I’m just really remorseful and sorry for my actions,” Pangai Jr told Nine News Brisbane’s Ben Dobbin.
“I don’t want to play for any other club I want to play for the Broncos.”
A phone call with Roosters boss Nick Politis in recent weeks raised suspicions that Pangai Jr could potentially link up with the reigning premiers, but the Broncos star was adamant that the chat was simply about receiving “footy advice” and “nothing to get out of the club”.
Currently in isolation and serving a suspension for his actions, Pangai Jr apologised for his actions, and denied having any associations with the Mongols bikie gang that has links to the barbershop he visited.
“I’ve never met any of them before. Obviously I have no association and won’t be going back there again,” he said.
“I’ve done the wrong thing you know and put my hand up and I’m really sorry for my actions.
“I put the game at risk and I’d like to say sorry to all the Broncos fans not only Broncos fans but fans of the game.
“I made the wrong choice. I knew the guidelines, but I took it for granted.”
While Pangai Jr breached the NRL bubble on multiple occasions, he revealed that the seriousness of his mistakes hit home hard when he realised the impact COVID-19 could have on his parents, who both have pre-existing medical conditions.
“They’re both unhealthy you know my dad’s got diabetes and my mum’s got heart problems,” he said.
“If I come back and got the coronavirus then I don’t think I could’ve lived with that.”
Despite suggestions that the Broncos could have his $650,000 contract torn up after his misstep, Pangai Jr is still holding out hope of returning to the team this season.
“I think I’m a chance,” he said.
“I can guarantee I’ll do the right thing now and fulfil my potential.”