He is one of the hottest properties in the NRL and already in demand by a number of clubs looking to capture his signature, but Tevita Pangai Jr has his sights set on one thing right now, playing for Tonga in international Rugby League.
Pangai Jr was born in Sydney and as such is eligible to play for New South Wales an Australia. However he has taken another road, calling NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler to let him know he would not be available for his state of birth as he looks to join a growing number of players who are looking to represent their country of heritage.
The New South Wales Blues look very strong heading into the 2019 State Of Origin series with us casinos having them at short odds to win the series against Queensland.
Tonga meanwhile also look very strong, led by possibly the worlds best player in Jason Taumalolo. With Pangai Jr now choosing to play for Tonga going forward, international Rugby League can expect more success from the island nation as international teams start to turn their attention towards being ready for the next Rugby League World Cup.
By turning down State Of origin football Pangai Jr has signaled his intent to forge his own path in terms of representative football. He will be turning down a lot of money to make it happen too, with each State Of Origin appearance earning a player a lot more than a test birth.
Tonga will now start to build towards the next World Cup, and betting sites will not doubt install them as one of the favourites to win it all just behind Australia.
If more players like Pangai Jr choose to play for nations of their heritage rather than for State Of origin teams, it can only be a good thing for international Rugby League. Who knows, eventually we might see Australia hoping to one day challenge the likes of a World Champion Tonga Rugby League team if things continue to head in the same direction.