Broncos teen wants to be next Petero
WAYNE Bennett could blood the youngest prop in Broncos history as teen sensation Payne Haas declared he wanted to be Brisbane's next Petero Civoniceva.
"The Payne Train" is on standby for Matt Lodge (ribs) and could make his NRL debut against South Sydney at ANZ Stadium aged 18 years and 145 days.
According to Fox Sports Lab, Haas will be the 16th youngest debutant in Brisbane's 30-year history and the youngest since the minimum age to play in the NRL was raised to 18 in 2011.
At 194cm and 117kg, Haas is built like a freight train and boasts the endurance of an elite NRL forward.
The Broncos have yearned for a workhorse in the front row since Test and Queensland legend Civoniceva retired in 2012 and Haas is determined to be that man.
"Petero is my hero," Haas told The Courier-Mail.
"He was just a machine. I get starstruck every time I think about it.
"I also liked watching old films of Glenn Lazarus, but I'd love to be able to achieve what Petero did in his career. He was incredible.
"I think I can do it (play in the NRL) but Wayne has a plan, he knows what's right and wrong.
"I'll go by Wayne's plan. He wants to bring me along slowly but if I can play consistently and maybe get a chance in the NRL, that would be awesome.
"I weigh 117.5kg. I've dropped two kilos actually, my fitness is at its peak and my footy IQ has improved out of sight."
Sam Thaiday (18 years and 29 days) and Dave Taylor (17 years and 337 days) are the only Broncos forwards to have debuted at a younger age, however both broke into first grade as backrowers.
Bennett has been fiercely protective of Haas, blooding the product of Keebra Park High on the Gold Coast in the Intrust Super Cup with Wynnum-Manly this season.
The seven-time premiership winning coach has been reluctant to rush Haas into the NRL, but Brisbane's season is teetering with a 3-4 record and an injection of youth could spark the Broncos.
Bennett said Haas was on standby for Lodge, however going by Wednesday's training session both of the young props could play instead of bench forward Sam Tagataese.
"He is close to it but he still hasn't got on the field yet," Bennett said.
"We're eight weeks into the competition and he's had that at state league level. He is a different boy to what he was when he started there.
"We've got to see if he gets an opportunity. l'll talk about him after, and when, he plays.
"(Lodge) feels a bit better, but it's still a day-by-day situation. He's 50-50."
Haas has earned comparisons with Taylor for his physical attributes, but good judges say the Broncos youngster's work ethic is exemplary.
The Broncos poached Haas from the Gold Coast Titans in 2016 and he is set to become the game's highest paid young forward next year, fielding offers worth more than $500,000-a-season despite having never played an NRL game.
"Wayne spoke to me before I went into contract negotiations (in 2016)," Haas said.
"It was enough to persuade me to go to the Broncos. With the history there, the Webckes and Civonicevas, I want to follow their path and fulfil my dreams there.
"I know there are big shoes to fill with those guys but I want to live up to those guys and not let the past down for the Broncos.
"It's just crazy being at the Broncos. Every day, training with the NRL guys, I'm living the dream.
"As a kid, you don't think it can happen but now it's my job and I'm getting paid for it, it's unreal.
"It's a good challenge for me this year playing against men. In the junior grades I'm usually the biggest kid, but now I'm going up against guys who are the same size.
"I actually prefer playing against men. It helps my development testing myself and hopefully it gets me ready for the NRL."
Bennett said he would make a decision on the make-up of his team on Thursday.