Wayne Bennett and the Dolphins have given Tevita Pangai Junior a way back into the NRL, signing up the one-time boxer for the rest of the 2024 season as the Redcliffe club looks to make finals for the very first time.

Pangai starts training with the Dolphins on Monday, immediately shifting from QRL club Souths Logan Magpies into the Redcliffe system in preparation to play next week.

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The 28-year-old originally walked away from the NRL to pursue a career in boxing, giving up a $750,000-a-year deal with the Canterbury Bulldogs in the process. Less than a year later and after just three post-retirement bouts (two wins and a loss), the former New South Wales representative has returned to footy.

Pangai held informal talks with Brisbane and Melbourne before joining the Dolphins.

The biggest factor in TPJ’s eventual decision was supercoach Bennett, who he played under when he debuted at the Brisbane Broncos. “In my final year under Wayne in 2018 I had my breakout season,” Pangai told AAP in May, admitting he nearly followed him to South Sydney.

“I said no and sometimes I look back and feel as though I should have. Wayne understands me and knows how to get the best out of me. I would love to play under him again.”

Pangai Jr will slot right into the Dolphins forward rotation and will bolster the gap left by Tom Gilbert and Tom Flegler, both of whom were felled by injury quite early on in the 2024 NRL season.

“[This signing] is a big thing. Tevita can help us out and we can help him out,” Dolphins boss Terry Reader said after the signing was announced on Friday. “He’s back in the window, hopefully doing a good job, and there’ll then be interest to sign him.

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“Tevita wants to be in a full-time NRL system and get back on the field. He played the last two games in the Queensland Cup for Souths Logan and has been getting his match fitness up.”

The post Pangai Jr finds his way back into NRL with Dolphins lifeline first appeared on The Sporting Base.

The post Pangai Jr finds his way back into NRL with Dolphins lifeline appeared first on The Sporting Base.