Retention coup: ‘He loves the Broncos — he is staying’
New Broncos coach Anthony Seibold has struck another retention blow against Wayne Bennett, with prop sensation Payne Haas ruling out the prospect of following the super coach to South Sydney.
In a huge coup for the Broncos, Haas - the best emerging front-rower in the NRL - has vowed to honour his Brisbane deal despite the departure of the master coach who first lured him to Red Hill.
Just five months ago, Haas was so determined to be part of Bennett's Broncos he signed a monster $3.4 million extension until the end of 2024, saying the NRL's greatest coach was the only mentor who truly understood him.
Haas' father Gregor said his teenage son had hoped to play out his entire career under Bennett.
That sentiment triggered fears Haas could seek a release from his Broncos deal to join Bennett at Redfern immediately following the bitter sacking of the 68-year-old last Sunday week.
But there will be no Bennett-inspired Broncos exodus.
In the past week, key trio Corey Oates, Tevita Pangai Jr and Matt Lodge have signed new deals, and Haas' management yesterday torpedoed speculation the 19-year-old hulk will quit Brisbane to reunite with Bennett.
"Payne loves the Broncos - he is staying," said his agent, Pacific Sports Management's Chris Orr.
"When we signed this long-term deal we imagined Wayne Bennett was going to stay involved with the Broncos.
"Payne has enormous respect for Wayne, but as we know in rugby league, the landscape is forever changing and Payne will now look to impress his new coach.
"When he was coming off-contract, Payne did consider both Souths and the Storm, but we are confident the Broncos are the best fit for him to realise his potential."
When Haas was a free agent in 2016, he had all 16 NRL clubs chasing him, but chose the Broncos after a meeting with Bennett.
In July, the 120kg prop recommitted to the Broncos, not anticipating the subsequent political firestorm that led to the axing of Bennett, who handed Haas his NRL debut in April - ironically against Souths.
"Wayne Bennett is the key for Payne. He understands him," Gregor Haas told The Courier-Mail after his son signed a six-year upgrade.
"We signed with Brisbane because of Wayne. He is a good judge of character and understands Payne's capabilities.
"Wayne knows how to get the best out of Payne."
But Haas is backing Brisbane's culture and Seibold's methods to become an established NRL star next season in his comeback from a shoulder reconstruction.
Premiership-winning veteran Brisbane forward Sam Tagataese rates Haas the best young prop he has ever seen.
"I have been in the game a long time and I haven't seen anything like him - he is like Bionic Man," he said.
"He is 120 kilos running with outside backs.
"He is so fit for a big bloke. He is some machine … if he keeps his body in good shape and the trainers don't overtrain him, he will have a big year in 2019."
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