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‘It’s about his career’: Why NRL star Payne Haas could jump codes

By Finn Morton
Payne Haas of the Broncos celebrates with team mate Reece Walsh of the Broncos after scoring a try during the round five NRL match between Brisbane Broncos and Wests Tigers at Suncorp Stadium on April 01, 2023 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Brisbane Broncos enforcer Payne Haas has been back in the headlines this week as the saga surrounding his future in the NRL continues to rage on.

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According to The Courier Mail only a few days ago, the New South Wales Blues representative was set to re-sign with the Broncos.

But then, later in the week, the same publication revealed that Haas was reportedly “set to reject a four-year extension offer worth $1.1 million per season.”

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That news has surely come as an early Christmas gift for Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan. You wouldn’t be able to wipe the smile off his face if RA can sign the NRL superstar.

After signing Sydney Roosters flyer Joseph Suaalii to a lucrative deal earlier this year, McLennan and RA set their sights on Haas – and they weren’t shy about it, either.

McLennan told The Daily Telegraph that Haas could “see the world” if the front rower jumped codes. Haas could potentially play the British and Irish Lions in 2025, and a home World Cup a couple of years later.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

One man who knows a thing or two about jumping codes is dual international Mat Rogers. The former Wallaby played for Cronulla in the NRL before switching to the 15-player game.

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Rogers helped the Wallabies retain the Bledisloe Cup in 2002 – the last time Australia held the prestigious trophy – and was part of Eddie Jones’ World Cup squad a year later.

Speaking on SEN radio in Australia, Rogers warned the NRL community that “rugby union is one that’s coming” for Payne Haas.

“It’s about his career, it’s about his future. He’s got a finals series on the horizon, the Broncos could win the comp,” Rogers told SEN. “Who knows where his mindset is?

“One thing I know is this stuff is not distracting Payne Haas.

“On the weekend he ran for 219 metres, 90 of those post-contact metres, five tackle busts, 44 tackles (and) no misses. He’s doing alright.

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“He’s been through hell off the field with what he’s had to go through with his family and hasn’t missed a beat. He’s still been the number one front rower in the game.

“Good luck to him. There’s all this talk about is (whether he’s) going to go to Melbourne, is it the Bulldogs? Another rugby league club is not the risk for Payne Haas, it’s rugby union. That’s a risk.

“He’s not gonna go to Sydney for an extra 150 grand. Melbourne aren’t going to pay over a million dollars for a front rower. Rugby union is the one that’s coming.”

It was reported earlier this year that Haas, who has been the best front rower in rugby league for a number of seasons, was “seriously” considering jumping codes.

Haas played rugby union before switching to the rival code as a teenager – the now 23-year-old even played for the Australian Schoolboys in 2016.

“Rugby is something Payne would seriously look at. Payne loves rugby league and the Broncos, but he has played rugby as a kid,” Haas’ father Gregor told The Daily Telegraph earlier this year.

“People bag rugby in Australia but they don’t look at the bigger picture. The NRL is very small compared to rugby, which is a world game.”

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Shaylen 3 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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Jon 9 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Ioane is going to be more than good enough to lock up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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