Pandia can follow in footsteps of Storm legend: Walker
THERE was only one Marcus Bai.
But Jets co-coach Shane Walker insists that star Ipswich winger Richard 'Liklik' Pandia has the talent to follow in the footsteps of the former Melbourne Storm premiership winning winger and become an NRL sensation.
Both Bai and Pandia were born in Papua New Guinea and both were born to run...fast and furious.
Pandia was a revelation in 2015 with his dynamic running and bruising defence a highlight of the Jets surge to Intrust Super Cup and NRL State Championship wins.
A Pandia run is always the same.
The runaway pocket rhino makes sure defenders know they have been in a collision.
Nothing is half hearted when Pandia tucks the ball under his arm, and tackling this rampaging ball of muscle is subsequently not for the faint hearted either.
It is why an NRL gig is not beyond him.
"Richard has got aspirations to play NRL and has already sounded us out about making up some highlight tapes and finding a good manager for him," Walker told the QT.
"With a good off-season, some weights and bit more bulk on his frame he could be another Marcus Bai.
"In his day Marcus would come tearing in off his wing for the Storm and give them a charge of 15m and really frighten the opposition.
"There is no reason why Richard 'Liklik' Pandia couldn't do the same.
"He has got really electric footwork.
"The sky is the limit for him.
"He hasn't played a lot of footy in the position that he excelled at, given that he played on the wing.
"But he is a really fast learner and is always really keen to improve."
The Jets have started pre-season training and Pandia shows all the signs of starting 2016 where he left off during his breakout season.
Pandia is a versatile footballer if ever there was one, a fact highlighted by Walker's response when the QT asked what his best position was.
"His best position is somewhere on the field," Walker replied, wryly.
"It really is. We played him centre and he went terrific there and we played him off the bench and he did a wonderful job.
"Then he played on the wing and ended the season doing 61 hit-ups in those two grand final wins.
"He gives us terrific impetus to the start of our sets."
Walker said Pandia would gain enormous benefits from his breakout 2015 season.
"He is not shy by any means and has really grown in self-belief and confidence in his own ability," Walker said.
"At training he has come back in great physical shape.
"He has a real appetite for work and has excelled at everything we have done at training so far."
The Jets may yet have two Pandias playing for them in 2016 with Richard's brother Sebastien, a former PNG Hunters captain, keen to link with the squad.
One Pandia is scary enough for opponents. Two would be green and white dynamite.