Brisbane forward Josh McGuire says comparisons with Jason Taumalolo are premature for Broncos enforcer Tevita Pangai Junior.
However, the Queensland lock tipped him to lift Wayne Bennett’s side against a Jesse Bromwich-inspired Melbourne pack in Friday night’s NRL preliminary final at AAMI Park.
Pangai Junior has this week been championed by teammate Alex Glenn as Brisbane’s answer to Cowboys wrecking ball Taumalolo upon his return from a two week hamstring injury.
However, McGuire isn’t so sure.
Unlike Taumalolo’s 200m-plus games, Pangai Junior has made 86m a match this season, averaging only 26 minutes off the bench.
“It is hard to compare him with Taumalolo at the moment but he is definitely got a lot of aggression to his game and can develop into a very good player at that level,” McGuire said.
“He just has to keep learning. He is a player of the future for this club.”
McGuire still expected Pangai Junior to turn heads upon his return.
“He is still learning his trade but he is still very important for us off the bench,” he said.
“He brings a lot of spark.”
And it seems they will need it against a Storm pack led by Kiwi giant Bromwich.
“They have international players everywhere but it is hard to go past Jesse Bromwich, who has been benchmark of the competition,” McGuire said.
“He’s a big body with great footwork.
“You won’t find a lot of front-rowers who have quite such good hands and feet and he’s a hard guy to get a decent hit on.
“But they are the form team of the year, the best team in the comp.”
Glenn believed last week’s grinding 13-6 semi-final win over Penrith was ideal practice for what was to come from Storm’s pack on Friday night.
“Melbourne have a lot of structure, they are clinical and relentless but I think last week’s game was great preparation for us,” he said.
“We have got to make sure we take that enthusiasm as a pack to Melbourne because us guys in the middle we have a job on our hands.”