Kevin Walters has demanded more from Tevita Pangai Jr and has challenged the firebrand forward to become the linchpin for the Broncos resurgence.

It was the first day of Broncos pre-season training on Monday with more than 20 players returning to Red Hill, including Pangai Jr, Brodie Croft, Tom Dearden and Jamayne Isaako.

Players were subject to the stifling Brisbane heat and the intense session saw some fail to complete or left throwing up behind the goalposts.

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Tevita Pangai Junior returned to the Broncos ready to atone for his 2020 troubles. Picture: Peter Wallis
Tevita Pangai Junior returned to the Broncos ready to atone for his 2020 troubles. Picture: Peter Wallis

Pangai Jr appeared in trouble in the opening time trial session but finished with a better result than Walters had anticipated as the new head coach sets his sights on getting the best out of his Tongan torpedo.

The Brisbane forward was embroiled in controversy during the 2020 season, narrowly escaping the sack from the club after a number of COVID-19 protocol breaches, which included a barber shop visit with alleged ties to bikies.

As punishment, he was forced to work at a Brisbane garden nursery where he has laboured away for the past few months.

The 24-year-old has had a rollercoaster five seasons with Brisbane, hampered by suspensions and injuries, but Walters is confident he can get him firing.

Kevin Walters keeps an eye on the Broncos during day one of pre-season training. Picture: Peter Wallis
Kevin Walters keeps an eye on the Broncos during day one of pre-season training. Picture: Peter Wallis

"We're really pleased with the condition he's come back in," Walters said.

"It was interesting on the time trial everyone else took off with excitement which is expected from the young players but the old bull, and he's not that old either, he took his time and he finished off with a really good time.

"We expect Tevita to be a huge player for us next year. He's got skills that not many players have.

"We've seen glimpses of what he can do but we need to see more of that next year.

"From the discussions that we've had, we expect that to happen.

"He's a good fella and we'll get him going in the right direction and he'll be a real asset for us."

With the futures of Brisbane forwards Joe Ofahengaue and Matt Lodge, as well as the loss of David Fifita to the Titans, Pangai Jr will become the Broncos engine room leader.

One of Walters' first goals as the Broncos new head coach is transforming Tevita into the "linchpin" to spearhead their 2021 campaign.

"His attitude has been excellent," he said.

"He's got a lot of ability and we haven't seen the best of him yet.

"It's wonderful to have these players in our organisation and it's up to all of the playing staff and performance staff to have him in the right frame of mind.

"He's another one who can be a real linchpin for our season next year."


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