Blues brothers bond a blessing in disguise


It was a bond formed at the Brisbane Broncos and it could hold the key for the Westpac NSW Blues in Game One of the Ampol State of Origin series at Adelaide Oval tomorrow night.

Starting props Payne Haas and Tevita Pangai Jnr spent four seasons together at Brisbane before Pangai Jnr moved on. He was released from the Broncos during the 2021 season and joined Penrith Panthers for a brief stint before signing with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs from 2022.

The pair have been quick to rekindle their friendship in camp with Fittler hoping it will stand the team in good stead when the fireworks start tomorrow night.

“I didn’t realise how close Tevita was to Payne so that’s been a bit of a blessing because those two blokes have been inseparable,” Fittler said at a NRL promotion in Adelaide today.

Haas has been the form front rower of the NRL competition this year after running for an average of 190 metres per game and making a total of 307 tackles with an efficiency rate of 98 per cent.

Pangai Jnr had a slow start to the season due to injury but was strong in his last game against the Gold Coast Titans where he ran for 213 metres and made 34 tackles.

Fittler said he was confident Pangai Jnr would hold his own against Queensland tomorrow night.

“Tevita will start the game, he’s our front rower so I’ll tell him to go hard,” Fittler said.

“It’s an opportunity for him. A lot of people assume he’s going to go out and play a certain way, but he just needs to go out, do his best and be good for us.

“Not many people pay attention to what he’s been doing off the ball and under (Bulldogs coach) Cameron (Ciraldo) he’s really done a great job, he’s upped his work rate, so I’m really confident he’ll do all that team stuff well.”