Belmore bound: Pangai Junior chooses Bulldogs over Tigers in $2.2m coup

Canterbury’s impressive rebuild is set to receive another major boost, with Brisbane enforcer Tevita Pangai Junior set to join the Bulldogs on a three-year deal from next season.

Sources with knowledge of negotiations told the Herald on Monday night that Pangai Junior has decided to link with the Bulldogs over the Wests Tigers, having been granted a release from the final year of his deal at the Broncos.

It’s expected Pangai Junior’s management will formally notify the Bulldogs on Tuesday. The contract with the Bulldogs is believed to be worth $2.2 million over three years.

The Wests Tigers offered the same money, however Pangai Jr has elected to go with the Bulldogs after a week of mulling over the decision. It is understood the Tongan international notified Maguire of his decision on Monday night.

After removing themselves from the race a fortnight ago, the Tigers came back to the table last week with an offer worth $400,000 more than they originally discussed.

Pangai Junior’s decision to join the Bulldogs comes in the same week the club managed to land the major coup of Phil Gould as general manager of football.

Broncos star Tevita Pangai Junior is heading to the Bulldogs.Credit:NRL Photos

Gould hasn’t wasted any time settling into his new role and spoke to Pangai Junior on Sunday as he was considering his future.

Pangai Junior’s decision to link with the Bulldogs is a huge blow for the Wests Tigers, who continue to strike out when it comes to landing a big recruit.

While Michael Maguire has copped flak for a perceived inability to bring players to the club, the Herald has been told Pangai Junior was impressed with the Wests Tigers coach.

The decision to join the Bulldogs was based around an improvement in their roster for 2022, with Pangai Junior to join Matt Burton, Josh Addo-Carr, Matt Dufty and Brent Naden at Belmore. Paul Vaughan has also been linked to the club.

The Wests Tigers have only managed to lure Super League duo Oliver Gildart and Jackson Hastings.

The Broncos were willing to release Pangai Junior immediately, however the Bulldogs are yet to decide whether he will join the club before the August 1 trade deadline.

The Bulldogs need to decide whether it is worth their while paying money for Pangai Junior in 2021 when they are next to no hope of playing finals football this year.

Meanwhile, St George Illawarra have reignited discussions with Wests Tigers utility Moses Mbye. The Herald reported earlier in the year that the Dragons had expressed interest in luring Mbye to the club mid-season, however Maguire shut it down following Mbye’s move to five-eighth.

The Dragons have once again asked the question of the Tigers in the hope of adding Mbye to their roster before August 1 but need to agree on how much each club is willing to chip in to cover his $850,000 salary.

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