NRL star cops huge fine and ban over coronavirus breach
As the Broncos prepare to terminate Pangai Jr's contract, the NRL took a hardline stance on the controversial forward by hitting him with a breach notice for failing to comply with the code's strict biosecurity protocols.
The NRL's Integrity Unit discovered multiple breaches by Pangai Jr of the protocols over a period of time, the final straw being his appearance at the opening of a Brisbane barber shop last weekend associated with the Mongols bikie group.
The NRL has ordered Pangai Jr be removed from the Broncos' COVID bubble and any NRL match-day activity until such time that he can satisfy the code that he will comply with all biosecurity protocols.
But with the Broncos angling to sack Pangai Jr, and it being too late for him to join a rival club this season, he faces seven months before being able to play his next game.
Acting NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo lashed Pangai Jr for his COVID defiance and vowed to protect the premiership from any other breaches.
"We believe this was a case of a player committing multiple contraventions of the protocols and showing a disregard for the league's rules,'' he said.
"We will do everything we can to protect our season.
"Players or officials who show they are unable to comply with the biosecurity protocols will be removed from club bubbles until we are satisfied that they will comply with the protocols. We believe in this case, Tevita has not been able to do that.
"This decision protects the health of our playing squads and most importantly the general community.
"I want to reiterate that the overwhelming majority of players and officials are doing the right thing and we thank them for that. Where there are breaches of protocols we will take immediate action to ensure no risk of infection."
The Broncos are also preparing to hit Pangai Jr with a breach notice with a view to tearing up his $650,000-a-season contract, having grown fed up with his on and off-field ill-discipline.
Should Pangai Jr hit the open market, he is sure to have no shortage of interest, although big guns Melbourne and the Roosters are unlikely to make a play for the Tongan international.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson ruled out chasing Pangai Jr amid speculation last week the forward was interested in playing at the two-time premiers.
"No, he won't be at the Roosters," Robinson said.
"I don't know what's going on up there but we've worked really hard - as you can see - for the type of player that we want.
"And he's not going to fit that mould."
Asked if the Storm would consider signing Pangai Jr, Storm coach Craig Bellamy said: "Not at the moment.
"I don't know the actual goings on at the moment. I (heard) a little bit last night, obviously they're looking to terminate his contract, whether that's right or that's wrong, I don't know.
"If that's the case I suppose we could think about it but at this stage, no."
Originally published as Pangai Jr cops huge fine and ban