Asked about tangling with his one-time Raiders teammate Hunt again, Pangai laughed and pointed to the Samoan international’s recent “weak-gutted dog” sledge at Corey Horsburgh when they too engaged in some argy-bargy.
“I think he’s got to worry about Corey Horsburgh from the Raiders. That was pretty fun and good theatre,” Pangai said.
“I can’t wait for them to go at it again. Royce is a good player, he had a good World Cup campaign. It’ll be good to go up against him. I love competing against good players like him.
“I’m sick of these stat chasers, let’s get at it! We’ve got all these guys chasing 200 metres, trying to be Payne Haas, just leave that for Payne.”
Pangai gave up his own World Cup tour with Tonga to get a full pre-season in ahead of Cameron Ciraldo’s first season in charge, losing 12kg and telling the coach he could show him the door if he fell back into his lazy habits.
Ciraldo put Pangai to work in video sessions while he was out injured, with Gould’s off-season rev-up still ringing in his ears along with counsel from Sonny Bill Williams.
“I’ve been surrounded by strong figures in the game, Sonny’s been on my back about controlling what you can control,” Pangai said. “What Gus was talking about [was] my intent in every training session. Whether that’s a weights session, a prehab or an ordinary field session, ‘take it with intent, don’t just come in going through the motions and cruising around’.
“I’m a senior player, I’m getting older, I’m 27 now so I need to come in with intent and good energy and lead with my actions.
“So I’m going back to what I did at the start of my career – just competing and competing hard on every play and competing in the spirit of the game.”