NRL: Sonny Bill Williams vows to help Bulldogs-bound SBW fan Tevita Pangai Jr
25 July, 2021, 2:15 pm
New Zealand rugby codes superstar Sonny Bill Williams has vowed to help NRL enforcer Tevita Pangai Jr become a success at his old Bulldogs club.
Pangai Jr is leaving the Broncos to join the Bulldogs on a three-year contract next season after seeing out the rest of this season on loan to the Penrith Panthers.
The 25-year-old Tonga test forward grew up in Campsie in Bulldogs territory and idolised Williams during Canterbury’s title winning season in 2004.
“I went for them in the ’04 grand final,” he told reporters in Sydney last week.
“To see the person that [SBW] is now, follow his religion and become a family man and be a good person, a good husband and good father, is something I want to try and be.”
Pangai Jr said Williams was his inspiration for making the move to the Bulldogs.
“Yeah 100 per-cent, do some training with him. I’ve already spoken about it when I agreed to come down to Sydney.”
Williams is equally keen to help Pangai Jr settle in at the Canterbury club.
“I want to be there for him,” Williams told Sydney Morning Herald columnist Danny Weidler on Sunday.
“I have the experience and being a Muslim is about sharing your knowledge. I want to share it with Tevita. He is smart man and I want to see him thrive.”
Williams said he met Pangai Jr through their mutual friend, former Wallabies rugby union star Quade Cooper.
“I have seen the training he does. I know the improved approach he has taken towards that and diet. I know, like Tevita knows, that he hasn’t given himself the best chance to be the best player he can be. I think he can change that and I can help him.”
Williams, who won grand final titles with the Bulldogs (2004) and the Roosters (2013) and earned two Rugby World Cup winners medals with the All Blacks, reckons Pangai Jr could be one of the best forwards in the NRL.
He told the Sydney Morning Herald that the Tongan had “the genetics and physicaility” to be in the same class as Payne Haas (Broncos), David Fifita (Titans) and Viliame Kikau (Panthers).