Bronco’s pre-season from hell is over
BRONCOS veteran Matt Gillett believes Payne Haas will become an NRL target but has backed the rookie prop to handle front-row fireworks against the Wests Tigers on Thursday night.
Haas' pre-season from hell is finally over with the 118kg giant set to make his first appearance of the year against the Tigers at Suncorp Stadium after serving a club-imposed four-match suspension.
The hulking 20-year-old was banned by the Broncos and fined $20,000 for not fully complying with an NRL integrity unit investigation. To compound his plight, Haas appeared in court a fortnight ago on separate charges related to unlicensed driving and operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile phone.
But after months of damaging off-field headlines, Haas can take his first steps towards on-field atonement by helping the Broncos rectify a shaky 1-3 start to the season against a hard-working Tigers outfit.
Rated the code's next front-row superstar, Haas felt the effects of a daunting initiation in the NRL last season. He was mauled by Bulldogs rival David Klemmer in just his second top-grade game before suffering a shoulder injury in his third game against Manly which required season-ending surgery.
Now fully fit, Haas runs out for his fourth NRL game and forward colleague Gillett says he wouldn't be surprised if the Tigers pack, led by Ben Matulino and Russell Packer, make a beeline for the Broncos young gun.
"They will probably try and target him," Gillett said.
"Payne missed a lot of footy last year with his shoulder.
"The Tigers will see him as a big boy and try and target him like we do with other teams.
"You try and spot their dangerous blokes to tire them out in the defensive line."
Gillett is confident Haas has the size and toughness to withstand any physical barrage.
"Payne can hold his own in the middle," he said.
"He just shows it at training, we struggle to slow him down. In pre-season, he was very hard to handle. That's what gives me confidence.
"It will be good to get Payne back into the game, wherever he plays he just has to get his job done.
"It will take time for him to get his timing back with defence and running lines, but someone of his size and ability will add a bit of impact to our side."
Haas is expected to start off the interchange bench as coach Anthony Seibold considers a four-forward bench also comprising Jaydn Su'A, Tom Flegler and debutant Pat Carrigan.
Gillett's back-row cohort Alex Glenn must pass a medical test after a head knock in last week's 36-4 loss to the Roosters, but is expected to play.
Brisbane legend Gorden Tallis ripped into the squad on Sunday, accusing current Broncos players of arrogance, but Gillett is using the savage spray as motivation.
"Everyone is entitled to an opinion," he said.
"We have a job to do and that's just worrying about playing footy.
"We can go out Thursday night and show what we can do.
"Everyone always has an opinion whether it's good or bad and for us as a group we have to focus on playing well and hopefully we can turn some opinions around."