At 120kg and 190cm tall, you’d be forgiven for thinking Payne Haas is a little bit older than he is if you saw him walking down the street. However, the gentle giant is just 18 years of age and is already impressing coaching staff and teammates as he gets used to life in Brisbane.
When he was 16, the young forward signed with the Broncos on a three-year deal, which will keep him at the club until 2019. The Queensland team were extremely lucky to snatch the exciting prospect, with interest from at least ten other NRL clubs, as well as some NFL organizations, looking to persuade him to change codes.
Since arriving at Red Hill, all eyes have been on Haas, with several senior players admitting that they’re surprised at how fast he has progressed. 2018 is looking like a breakthrough year for the emerging star and this could be the season that he breaks into the senior squad. He was fantastic for the under-20s during their last campaign and already people have started to make the comparison towards Andrew Fifita. In fact, prior to State of Origin game three, Queensland coach Kevin Walters asked Haas to step in as a Fifita ‘clone’ and train with the rest of the team.
All the attention was supposed to be on enforcer Korbin Sims at pre-season training as he returned back from an injury that saw him miss the NRL Finals, as well as the Rugby League World Cup for Fiji. But even he said he was amazed at how well the youngster was settling into training with the senior team and predicts big things for Haas next year.
There’s no doubt that a competitive side like the Broncos is a great place for the Keebra Park prodigy to learn how to improve his game. The side will go into next season hoping to make it one game further, missing out on the big dance in 2017 after going down to Melbourne in the semi-final. The bookmakers certainly seem to think they have a good chance to win their seventh premiership, with the side currently at $11.00 to lift the trophy according to Rugby League betting markets.
The Broncos will be expected to welcome Payne straight into their team after losing quite a few key players to transfers. They have seen Herman Ese’ese depart for the Newcastle Knights, Jai Arrow for the Gold Coast Titans, and Francis Molo also part company after his release by the club. Lastly, in perhaps their biggest loss of all, Kiwis captain Adam Blair has left a gaping hole in the Broncos’ front row, after making the move to the New Zealand Warriors.
With all these key stars exiting the team, it leaves the perfect opportunity for a youngster like Haas to step up and make a name for himself in the Broncos’ engine room. He’s going to be an exciting player to watch next season and hopefully for the Broncos, they’ve found themselves a new superstar for the future.