Newly appointed Brisbane coach Kevin Walters has had a strong start to his reign at Red Hill, with the former Maroons coach backing five key figures to remain with the Broncos for the long-haul, per NRL.com.
Walters held his first training session with Brisbane on Monday, with troubled forward Tevita Pangai gaining plenty of support from his new mentor.
The 24-year-old is effectively on a 12-month probation following a club suspension that reframed from terminating Pangai’s contract and instead ordered him to work in a job organised by the Broncos.
Following on from Monday’s session, Walters was confident in Pangai’s ability moving forward.
“We are really happy with the condition he has come back in and we expect Tevita to be a huge player for us next year,” Walters said.
“He has got skills that not many players have got so we are very excited to have him as part of the Broncos group.
“We have seen what he can do in glimpses but we need to see more of that next year and from the discussions we have had we expect that to happen with Tevita.
“He is a good fellow and we will get him going in the right direction so he can be a real asset for us.”
Walters also added that the controversial forward has shown an “excellent” attitude in his return to training.
“It is wonderful to have these sort of players in our club and our organisation and it is up to all the coaching staff and the performance staff to get him in the right frame of mind so that when March comes around next year he is ready to go,” Walters said.
“He could be a real linchpin for our club next season.”
Walters also revealed that senior members Matt Lodge and Joe Ofahengaue will remain in his plans for 2021, while he is confident young duo Kotoni Staggs and Tom Dearden, who are both out of contract in 12 months time, will re-sign with the Broncos.
“The Broncos have a history of not losing players that they want and over the last few years that has changed a bit,” Walters said.
“Salary caps and all of those things come into it but we want the boys to stay here and we will be doing everything in our power to make sure they do.
“Kotoni is only just scratching the surface with his career, and I am very excited to be working with Tom. He is a good young Queenslander who we want to see be a 10-year player here.
“It is my job and the rest of the staff to make sure Tom is comfortable here, living in Brisbane and being part of what is going to be a very powerful club.”
Normally, senior players aren’t required to return to training until December, but Walters was happy to see the likes of Ofahengaue, Anthony Milford, Alex Glenn and Corey Oates on the track this week.
“A lot of those older players came in to day just to be part of it, so that was pleasing from my point of view as well,” Walters said.
“It’s virtually a clean slate, we have got a new coaching staff and a new performance staff so we are starting again. We hit the re-start button today and the next four weeks into Christmas is about working really hard with each, supporting each other and getting through the next month.”