The Brisbane Broncos have reportedly torn up the contract of star forward Tevita Pangai Jr over his latest COVID protocols breach.
Pangai Jr was earlier this week stood down by the Broncos for two weeks after he was sprung at a barber shop which has links to the Mongols bikie gang when police arrived to conduct a search of the premises on Sunday.
By being there, the 24-year-old was breaking the NRL’s strict biosecurity measures, which essentially limit players to their homes unless travelling to and from games and training.
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The Brisbane Broncos board has reportedly decided that Pangai’s allegedly deliberate and flagrant attempt to ignore the biosecurity rules constitutes grounds to rip up his contract and issue the 24-year-old a breach notice.
The Courier-Mail first reported the drama on Tuesday afternoon with the newspaper reporting Pangai’s $650,000 per-season deal has been terminated.
The report outlines the Broncos have given Pangai five days to respond to the breach notice to show cause for why his contract, which runs through to the end of the 2022 NRL season, should not be terminated.
According to widespread reports, Pangai is also facing an NRL fine of up to $40,000 for his barber shop blunder.
It comes just 12 months since he re-signed with the Broncos through to the end of the 2022 season on a three-year deal reported at the time to be worth around $2 million.
The Broncos’ dramatic move comes after the NRL’s August 3 trade deadline has already passed — meaning Pangai Jr will have to sit out the rest of the season even if he is snapped up by a rival club immediately.
The Tongan international was last week reported to have put himself on the open market after making contact with several clubs, including figures linked to the Roosters.
Pangai’s backflip on his own club was first reported by Fox League’s James Hooper on NRL 360, where it was revealed Pangai himself has made contact with rival clubs, despite being under contract for more than two years.
“It came up that Tevita Pangai has been picking up the phone personally and ringing a number of figures in the game and essentially shopping himself around to find a different club for next season,” Hooper said.
Pangai admitted on Instagram to having made contact with Roosters supremo Nick Politis.
Channel 7’s Chris Garry reported the Broncos’ decision to sack Pangai Jr is also partly motivated by his rogue contact with rival clubs.
“Bronco Pangai Jnr’s contract to be torn up after he breached COVID rules deliberately,” Garry posted on Twitter.
“Broncos board decided the flagrant act is enough to cancel his contract with the club. Comes on the back of him talking to Nick Politis. They’ve had enough.”
The Broncos released a statement on Sunday, saying: “Brisbane Broncos player Tevita Pangai Junior has been stood down for 14 days after breaching Project Apollo protocols.
“The club has been informed that he attended the opening of a barber shop yesterday, in breach of the protocols.
“He has been placed on a ‘COVID Hold’ and will undergo testing, while spending 14 days in self-isolation as the NRL continues to examine details of the breach.
“The Broncos are investigating the circumstances around the matter to determine what further action may be taken.”
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