Warriors know what to expect from former rookie Payne Haas
May 22, 2019
Warriors players stood there in awe, wide eyes conveying their shock.
The young gun was all of 16 years old. He had just arrived in New Zealand, some kid from Aussie with bulging muscles and NRL stars in his eyes.
Within weeks of walking into Mt Smart Stadium, here he was, rag-dolling Warriors forwards 10 years his senior.
The Warriors backs were loving it. They stood back during the wrestling drills, chuckling as the teen freak unleashed his fury on the Warriors’ baddest, meanest forwards.
“Who is this kid?” hollered a shell-shocked Warriors star.
“Payne Haas,” replied a Warriors development officer. “Remember the name.”
The year was 2016, and Haas was a complete unknown from the Gold Coast who had moved suddenly to New Zealand.
Contracted to the Titans, Haas was having some issues at the club and his family requested a release for personal reasons.
Haas received information that the Warriors offered a great development system, so his family purchased a one-way ticket and sent the then 113kg giant across the ditch for some career mentoring.
How the Warriors must wish Haas never left.
Fast forward three years and the Warriors still remember the name.
The entire NRL world knows his name. Now, Haas comes with a reputation: Brisbane’s biggest player at 118kg, being touted as a NSW bolter for Origin I on Wednesday week after just 10 first-grade games.
This Saturday night, Broncos prop Haas returns to Mt Smart Stadium to face the team that was once his home, ready to once again terrorise the Warriors forwards, some of whom have not forgotten his impact.
“I went to the Warriors for a year and they were good to me,” Haas said. “I can’t wait to go over there and play them this week.
“I actually enjoyed my time there. The club were great for me, I had heard they had good development for young players so that’s why myself and my family decided to send me to New Zealand.
“I only came back because I was young, I was homesick and I wanted to be close to my family again.”
Watching the way Haas finds his front on an NRL field, steamrollering first-grade enforcers with 200 games of experience, it is unfathomable to think he remains in his teens. If he is picked for NSW this Sunday night, Haas will play in Origin I aged 19 years and 185 days.
In the past fortnight, Haas has charged for a staggering 442 metres in two games. Last week, he torched the premiers, scoring a rampaging solo try — the first four-pointer of his embryonic NRL career.
He’s already been compared to Petero Civoniceva with his bulk and 194cm frame. He stands 1cm taller than Civoniceva, and good judges believes Haas has more natural talent. The agent who spotted him Chris Orr, who also manages Cowboys wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo, believes he will dominate the code.
“He will be a 10-year NRL veteran easily,” said Orr of the PSM agency.
“Payne will play at all the highest levels. He is an elite kid. He doesn’t get flustered for a young guy. He’s never nervous. He’s just so calm, and so fit.”
It’s a fitness base cultivated for the past decade. Haas’ remarkable engine in the NRL, already capable of playing 80 minutes when many older forwards struggle to play 50, is partly genetic, but certainly no fluke.
From the age of 10, Haas’ father Gregor was preparing his son for the big league.
“The fitness comes from my dad,” Haas says.
“I am not saying this in a bad way, but other dads might take their sons out for an ice cream. My dad would take me in the morning for a drive. I would think this is cool, we’re going to the beach, but he would stop the car and say OK, get out now.
“We’d go for a run instead of a swim.
“He changed the distances. Sometimes it was 6km or 8km or 10km. I would run home and dad would be driving beside me.
“Dad did train me to be a rugby league player but I also had the passion for it. I love working hard. Even though dad pushed me hard, I knew it would be good for me at the end of the road.”
Source: Courier Mail