The Broncos are also accusing him of missing a team meal last Saturday. The club has had issues with barbecues in the past but is banking on Pangai’s failure to attend as part of its case to sack him. The club was famously split over separate barbies hosted by chief executive Paul White and Wayne Bennett during the supercoach’s ugly departure from the Broncos. Now Pangai is facing a huge financial hit, partly because he didn’t attend a gathering. He maintains the meal was not part of the club schedule and he didn’t know it was compulsory.
His judiciary record will also be used against him. Sources close to the situation say that will come into play if he misses eight games in a season. Pangai served a four-match suspension earlier this year and has been banned four times since the start of last season for a total of 12 weeks.
Pangai’s lawyers will argue strongly against everything Brisbane present.
Interestingly, Pangai hasn’t put up much resistance to the NRL’s evidence of his bubble breaches. He was caught attending a local league game and dining out on at least two occasions, as well as having friends at his house. He also travelled with friends in a car and caught an Uber.
The NRL has the evidence, but Pangai will question whether his actions are worse than Latrell Mitchell and Josh Addo-Carr firing guns and riding motorbikes during a complete lockdown. Or worse than Bennett – arguably the most senior figure in the game – dining out in Leichhardt.
Pangai knows he’s done the wrong thing, but feels there are vast inconsistencies in the way COVID-19 breaches are judged.
‘As a dad, you worry’
Boyd Cordner’s pain at being unable to play while concussion-related symptoms persist has been laid bare by the person who knows him best — his father, Chris.
Boyd, the Australia, Blues and Roosters leader, is one of the toughest forwards of his generation, but his head knocks have proved his biggest challenge.
‘‘It’s the injury you can’t see, and that’s what is so hard for Boyd,’’ Chris said. ‘‘He is doing it tough. There is a real anxiety there for Boyd because he feels he is letting his team down. He is anxious about that. He has been getting headaches here and there. But that, in part, is caused by his stress of not playing and not doing his job. He beats himself up and gets down on himself, and when they lose it gets worse for him.’’
Chris is very close to his son.
‘‘I normally call him every few days, but it’s been more like every day,’’ he said. ‘‘As a dad, you do worry. Against the Dragons, it looked bad when he cut his head open so deep it was like his brain was spilling out. But then the knock against Melbourne and the one in training … it was too much. There was no bleeding there, but he has to wait for the chemical reaction to settle down.’’
Chris is grateful his son is at the Roosters and getting the best medical care.
‘‘When you let your son go to a club you need them to look after them,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m lucky Boyd is with [Roosters coach] Trent Robinson. He is like a father figure for him and as a dad that’s what I want from someone who has my son’s career and health in his hands. Trent is a genius of a coach and I’m really happy Boyd is with him. I like the idea that he is getting plenty of time to heal himself. He is in great hands.’’
Supercoach denies talk of further breaches
When it comes to damaging campaigns, Anthony Seibold is not the only coach who has endured one this week. The vile rumours being circulated about the Broncos coach on social media have been stopped by police and lawyers.
But there is another campaign relating to Souths coach Wayne Bennett. I have been told by a number of figures in the game that Bennett ignored COVID-19 rules during the lockdown period when the game was on hold.
The main accusation is that Bennett spent time with Latrell Mitchell in Taree around the time Mitchell and Josh Addo-Carr got in trouble and were fined.
Bennett has told people he was there, but completely denied it when I put it to him. I have been told Bennett informed people of this trip while he was defending Mitchell’s actions.
His travels also included time in Queensland with his family. Bennett said he had permission to be there and no one would begrudge him spending time with his loved ones.
Bennett also denied having lunch in Coogee in recent weeks, in contravention of the NRL’s biosecurity guidelines, describing the suggestion as ‘‘bullshit’’.
Interest in Bennett’s movements has been sparked by his lunch at the restaurant Grappa in Leichhardt.
Throw in the towel
Brisbane league reporters posted photos of this discarded Brisbane jumper at the club’s headquarters this week. The fan who left it there, Scott Ridley, sent me an image of what he wrote on the jumper. ‘‘The Broncos simply shouldn’t be in this position!’’ he wrote. ‘‘It’s not a matter of deserting a sinking ship. I’ll be a supporter forever, but the Broncos should have a high standard and be a powerhouse. One-team town for god’s sake.’’ He is not alone in those thoughts.
Sonny days return?
It’s still not the likely outcome, but the push from the Bulldogs to bring Sonny Bill Williams ‘‘home’’ to Belmore remains strong. Williams said it was something he’d be open to and would like to happen when pressed on it on 100% Footy on Nine on Monday. Club sponsors want it to happen and the concept of pub baron Arthur Laundy becoming the Bulldogs version of Nick Politis is being felt throughout the game. Laundy’s son, Stu, is also getting involved and I can see the day where they will start discussions with players and their agents. The Laundys’ clout is significant.
Speaking of SBW, one of the first people to inquire about Luke Keary’s well-being on Friday morning was Williams. While SBW is one of the biggest names in the NRL, Keary – who suffered a serious rib injury against the Storm on Thursday night – has claims to being the best player in the game. Williams is keen to play with him and watched closely in 2014 – when SBW finished his previous NRL stint – as Keary played a key role in Souths breaking their 43-year premiership drought. SBW may be back on the field before Keary is.
Dogs barking mad
With all the coaching movements going on at the Bulldogs, questions are now being asked about when others in the football department and on the board will be held accountable. The role of football manager Steve Price is being seriously questioned, particularly by those who have been let go. Head of high performance Tony Ayoub has also been sacked by the Bulldogs, a clear indication of a club struggling to keep pace. Tony Grimaldi is a life member of the club and has been fired. It comes a week after we told you 37-year club veteran Garry Carden had been let go. When Des Hasler joined the Bulldogs, he couldn’t remove the staff he was left with and he took the club to two grand finals.
Eyebrows have been raised about the appointment of Dan Ferris as the Bulldogs new conditioner. He was with Trent Barrett at Manly when everything went south. Ferris and Willie Peters got into an infamous fight during a drinking session in The Rocks after Peters had finally had enough of his treatment at the Sea Eagles. We keep wanting to believe that Barrett has learnt from his previous errors. The jury is out.
Here is an interesting offering from a Gold Coast real estate agent. They say Cameron Smith’s wife, Barb, has been looking for a family home on the glitter strip. A nice place for Cam and the family to base themselves next year? Smith, the NRL’s games record holder, has been linked with a move back to his home state of Queensland in recent times.
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Danny Weidler is a sport columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald.