Tevita Pangai Junior takes big step towards NRL return after signing with Brisbane side

The former Bulldogs star has signed with Queensland Cup side Souths Logan Magpies.

Tevita Pangai Junior pictured
Tevita Pangai Junior has signed with Queensland Cup side the Souths Logan Magpies as he looks to break back into the NRL. Image: Getty

Tevita Pangai Junior has inched closer to an NRL return, signing with Queensland Cup side Souths Logan Magpies. The Magpies announced their high-profile recruit - who played for them when he was dropped by the Broncos during the 2021 season - on social media on Thursday night.

"Welcome back to ‘The Nest’ Tevita, we look forward to helping you in the next chapter of your Rugby League journey," the post read. Souths are coached by former NRL star Karmichael Hunt and the side is a feeder club to the Brisbane Broncos.

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Pangai Jnr shocked the NRL world when he walked away from a monster $750,000 per season contract at the Bulldogs, to take up professional boxing. The 27-year-old is unbeaten in his three professional fights to date and will next step into the ring in March for the fourth fight of his boxing career.

However, Pangai Jnr now believes he can make a comeback to the NRL and still juggle a boxing career. The 28-year-old announced his next fight on Monday. He will fight Kiwi Raphael at JBS Basketball Arena, Ipswich on March 23.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 10: Tevita Pangai Junior watches on during a Brisbane Broncos NRL training session at Red Hill on January 10, 2024 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
The latest development comes after Tevita Pangai Junior was spotted watching a Broncos training session in January. Image: Getty

The latest development comes after Pangai Junior was spotted watching a Broncos training session in January. Brisbane is the most likely destination for Pangai Jnr's NRL return, after joining their direct feeder club. The forward is anticipated to make his rugby league return in April with the Magpies.

"Obviously there’s great coaching there in Karmichael Hunt," Pangai Junior told reporters. "I was lucky enough to play some games (for the Magpies) before the big Broncos bosses kicked me out.

"Justin Hodges, we all know what a good competitor he is and what he’s done in the ring as well. I’ll probably go back to Souths Logan... hopefully get a win (in boxing) and then two weeks after that look at going back to play some footy."

Souths Logan begins their season on Saturday, March 9 against the Redcliffe Dolphins. The earliest Pangai Jnr could make his rugby league return would be for their Round 5 clash with Sunshine Coat on April 13.

Tevita Pangai Junior could follow in Paul Gallen's footsteps

Pangai Jnr's return to the NRL could see him follow in the footsteps of prize-fighting athlete Paul Gallen, who juggled both sports towards the end of his career. Gallen went on to make a career in boxing after he retired from the NRL.

However, boxing great Jeff Fenech previously warned Pangai Jr against the move, saying a boxing career takes singular dedication. "He wouldn’t be doing this if he wasn't going to make money but to walk away from $750,000 a year and think he's going to dominate in boxing... it’s not going to automatically happen," Fenech previously told Yahoo Sport Australia.

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