Haas’s sacrifice ahead of Origin push
May 16, 2019
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world will not eat or drink from dawn to sunset.
On Friday night, one of the NRL’s biggest and best talents will chase a NSW State of Origin jersey at a time where he is committed to obeying true sacrifice.
119kg Brisbane Broncos front row forward Payne Haas is devoted to achieving the most personally rewarding chapters of his faith — while potentially, entering State of Origin folklore.
Declaring via social media that he had begun the 30-day fast of Ramadan on May 5, Haas could be wearing the sky blue of NSW just four weeks later as Blues coach Brad Fittler confirmed the young Bronco was in his sights.
With only a small amount of food in his belly and a sip of water or Powerade before Friday’s 7.50pm kick-off, Haas will take the premiership-winning Sydney Roosters pack head-on during a religious period which can only be described as an athlete’s ultimate physical and mental test.
Driven by the belief in his faith and the support of widely recognised Muslim athletes Sonny Bill Williams and Hazem El Masri, Friday’s clash marks Haas’ second match since committing to the worldwide fast.
Which makes his 60-minute starring performance against Manly in Magic round last Friday night even more extraordinary.
Just five days into Ramadan, Haas was virtually unstoppable against the Sea Eagles, busting eight tackles and running for 192-metres — the most of any forward on the field.
Interestingly, his average metres gained for 2019 is 159 metres.
They remain outstanding numbers for a 19-year-old who has played just eight NRL games.
But his superior run metres against Manly speak more to his resilience through Ramadan — and why El Masri believes that through Haas’ period of fasting, the teenager will boast a greater mental edge than his teammates or rivals.
“He’s a wonderful talent,’’ El Masri, who is also currently committed to Ramadan, said of Haas.
“And for him, like most athletes Ramadan is mental.
“From a mental perspective, I was unbreakable. After Ramadan, anytime training got tougher mentally, I was stronger.
“It’s tough as an athlete, but mentally it does wonders for you.
“He’ll absolutely be a better player for it. With the right support from the Broncos, he’ll boast resilience — to the point where scientifically there’s a lot of studies now that show the benefits of period fasting for not just athletes.”
Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold wasn’t willing to discuss Haas’ personal vocation but the teenager has the full support of the club who have supplied him with a tailored training schedule and diet.
Fittler will be in Brisbane to watch the former NSW Origin under-18’s captain in person.
Not that the NSW Origin coach isn’t aware of Haas’ abundant talent.
In 2015, when Fittler was appointed NSWRL performance development coach — with the responsibility to oversee the state’s best under-16s, under-18s and under-20 players — Haas was impossible to miss.
Even at the tender age of 15, Haas would consistently beat the strength tests of some the 20-year-old’s within the NSWRL environment.
It’s why Fittler is now considering selecting Haas to make his Origin debut and why he’s also spent the past fortnight sounding out rival players to ask for their thoughts on the teenager who boasts a Swiss, Samoan and Filipino heritage.
“To get a bearing I’m trying to ask other players what it’s like to play against him,’’ Fittler said.
“They say he’s a handful. I spoke to Jake (Trbojevic) about it and he said, ‘I didn’t realise he’s such a handful’.
“This week he’s got (Jared) Hargreaves and Siua (Taukeiaho) and (Zane) Tetevano and Isaac Liu.
Asked if Haas could play himself into the NSW side with a powerful performance against the Roosters, Fittler said: “Hopefully. I just want him to finish (without injury).’’
Source: Courier Mail