The Brisbane Broncos are reportedly “seething” after Tevita Pangai Jr and Jamayne Isaako were linked to a rival club on Wednesday.
As first reported by Fox Sports, Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire, chief executive Justin Pascoe and head of recruitment Adam Hartigan were sprung on an apparent hit and run recruitment mission to Brisbane to chase the star duo.
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Broncos coach Kevin Walters later confirmed he had not granted Pangai Jr or Isaako permission to speak with rival clubs.
“The West Tigers have been caught red-handed,” Fox Sports journalist Jame Hooper told NRL 360 on Wednesday.
“They were on the plane (to Brisbane). The reason they were on the plane is because they had been doing some backroom negotiating, and they had manoeuvred to get permission to speak to Tevita Pangai Jr and Jamayne Isaako about joining the Wests Tigers next year.
“You don’t put your three top dogs on a plane to Brisbane to sign at park player.”
Tevita Pangai Jr. is confronted by Broncos coach Kevin Walters.Source:News Corp Australia
The Broncos released a statement on Friday afternoon, revealing Walters had confronted the pair in response to the media speculation.
“Jamayne stated he had met with Michael Maguire in his role as New Zealand Test Coach to discuss matters relating to International football,” the statement read.
“Tevita categorically rejected suggestions being circulated in the media that any meeting took place with Maguire, also coach of Wests Tigers.
“To be clear, neither player has been given permission, nor sought permission, to speak with other Clubs, and both players are contracted with the Broncos until the end of the 2022 season.
“The Broncos consider this the end of this matter and will make no further comment.”
But according to Channel 7 reporter Chris Garry, the Broncos are “seething” about the alleged secret talks, suggesting Pangai could be released immediately.
However, The Courier-Mail’s Peter Badel reported that Pangai Jnr would not be sacked because he committed no contractual breach, also confirming the NRL would not launch an investigation on the matter.
The NewsCorp report also claimed the Brisbane hierarchy is privately disappointed at the Tigers approaching two of their contracted players.
Meanwhile, Pangai Jnr’s manager has denied meeting with the Tigers.
The Tigers are adamant, they were discussing Kiwi Test duties with Isaako and 2023 contract with Tevita.
Question for Brisbane is – do they accept and believe it. NRL are looking into the matter. https://t.co/LkegsMU013
Maguire refused to comment on the Brisbane trip when quizzed by reporters on the matter.
“I don’t comment about players that we’re looking at. I’m about the now and my job is to make sure that we keep growing as a club,” he said on Thursday.
“So who we talk to is part of the job. Everyone’s doing it and we’ve got a big game tomorrow that I’m focused on.”
The Broncos have been revamping their roster since Walters took over, signing veteran halfback Adam Reynolds on a three-year deal earlier this month.
Melbourne Storm utility back Brenko Lee also reportedly signed with Brisbane on a two-year deal last week.
Brisbane will face the Sydney Roosters at the SCG on Saturday evening, with kick-off scheduled for 5.30pm AEDT.
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