How Panthers helped with Pangai's heartbreak

2 weeks ago 8
PR Distribution

Tevita Pangai Jr has praised Penrith Panthers coach Ivan Cleary for his compassion after his partner's tragic stillbirth 24 weeks into her pregnancy.

Speaking just weeks after the couple held a funeral for their daughter Georgia, Pangai Jr opened up about how he has dealt with the heartbreak, urging fans to show compassion.

"Especially for my partner it's been tough, but I'm trying to be there as much as I can," he told 9News Sydney. "It hits me [hard]."

"At the end of the day, people look at us as overpaid footy players and entitled, but we're just as human as the public are."

Pangai Jr looked to the heavens after scoring a try for Penrith following his daughter's stillbirth (Getty)

Pangai Jr had been at training when he was told the horrific news and immediately broke down before leaving cap to be by his partner's side in hospital.

The 25-year-old was ruled out of what would've been his debut match for Penrith due to what was described at the time as "a deeply personal and sensitive matter", and Pangai Jr praised Cleary for his message to him at the time.

"Ivan just said, 'Take as much time as you want off and be with your partner'," he said.

"I thought I could play on that week, but he was really supportive and obviously he's got kids of his own and he's really family-orientated."

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