Brisbane Broncos star Tevita Pangai Jr has come under fire for his “stupid” COVID-19 breach, which has fuelled the ongoing downfall of his struggling club.
The gun forward will be out of action for two weeks for his infraction, which came shortly after returning home from Sydney, where his team lost 28-10 to the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Friday evening.
The Courier-Mail reported Pangai was at a barber shop which has links to the Mongols bikie gang when police arrived to search the premises. Nothing illegal was uncovered, and there is no suggestion Pangai did anything wrong.
However, by being there, the 24-year-old was breaking the NRL’s strict biosecurity measures, which limit players to their homes unless travelling to and from games and training.
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As a result, Pangai is at risk of being kicked out of the club’s leadership group, which has already faced casualties this season — Origin star Darius Boyd reportedly quit the group after a rift with Broncos coach Anthony Seibold.
Speaking on Big League Wrap, Fox Sports reporter James Hooper ripped into the Tongan for his blatant “stupidity”.
“You can’t put brains in statues, and the stupidity from Tevita beggars belief,” Hooper saidon Sunday evening.
“He wasn’t in need of a fresh fade, we all saw him on Friday night against South Sydney, he didn’t need a haircut.
“He had mates that were involved in the opening of that barber shop, and for whatever reason, he’s decided to breach the bubble.”
Pangai has reportedly been in talks with rival clubs about a potential move, including the Sydney Roosters and Canterbury Bulldogs.
Former Bulldogs star Michael Ennis conceded Pangai’s off-field controversies have added to the Broncos’ growing list of woes.
“It’s incredible selfishness,” Ennis said.
“Given where the Broncos are at at the moment, given everything we’ve just been through and that has transpired since Thursday, with Wayne Bennett then his coach. The fact Tevita has gone and done this is, seriously, he’s put so much at risk here.
“The fact he went and shopped himself around then put in a performance like they did on Friday night, it would have been alarm bells to have a quiet weekend. Get yourself home, get yourself ready to face the Raiders.
“He’s put more unnecessary spotlight on a club that’s been soaked in all this drama for a few months … it reeks of him not giving a rat’s arse about the club and where they’re at at the moment. That’s basically where it’s at.
“He’s made a decision for himself, and he’s let his teammates, let his club down, and more importantly put the game in jeopardy.”
South Sydney Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett, St George Illawarra prop Paul Vaughan and Brisbane Broncos legend Allan Langer each breached the COVID-19 protocols this week.
Broncos chief executive Paul White has warned these ongoing breaches put the entire premiership in jeopardy.
“This type of behaviour is just unacceptable,” White said, as reported by The Courier-Mail.
“I am aware of the pain out in the community and how tough everyone is doing it — there will be no sympathy here, and nor should there be.
“The COVID protocols could not have been clearer or more strongly worded because we are at a critical juncture of the competition.
“The Apollo rules allow our game to keep running and we cannot compromise when it comes to sticking to them.
“We simply cannot afford to take our position for granted, and any reckless breach of the COVID rules will be dealt with by the club.”
Brisbane are currently sitting at 15th spot in the NRL ladder, having only won one game since the coronavirus lockdown.
The Broncos are also currently without their head coach — Seibold is in self-isolation after staying in Sydney on Friday night for personal reasons.
Channel 7 reporter Chris Garry revealed the 45-year-old had broken the NRL’s strict biosecurity measures to deal with a “family emergency”.
For their round 14 clash, Brisbane will take on the Raiders in Canberra on Saturday evening.