‘Freakish’ teen puts shiver up NRL
THE "freakish" athleticism of Payne Haas is inspiring his Brisbane teammates as the teenage prop prepares to play for the Broncos again.
The 19-year-old prop will start against Queensland Cup side Souths-Logan in Warwick this Saturday after an impressive off-season comeback from shoulder surgery.
Haas debuted at 18 last season and played just 36 action-packed minutes of NRL across three games off the bench before a shoulder dislocation eventually ruled him out for the season.
The powerhouse has since signed a six-year extension worth a reported $3 million and, having fully recovered, is in such good shape that he's inspiring his older teammates.
"He's got a lot of skill; he's quick, he's fit and it's pretty freakish to see how quick and how fit and how big he is," Jake Turpin, who will play hooker on Saturday, said.
"I've got to play big minutes so to see a 125kg prop be fitter than us is pretty extraordinary.
"A lot of young forwards are starting to look up to him and he's only a young forward."
Turpin and Haas are two of five players with NRL experience set to play in the first of three pre-season hit-outs - and the first for new coach Anthony Seibold.
Centre Gehamat Shibasaki and former Melbourne and South Sydney winger Richie Kennar will also see time, while Patrick Mago hopes to make an impression after breaking through for 12 senior games last season.
"It's been a big pre-season, boys are itching to get out there," Mago said.
"I just look at him (Haas) as a freak; killing it at that weight just motivates me, a big boy running like that."
Prop Andrew Savelio will hope for better luck when he returns from a knee injury suffered in last season's corresponding trial game while Halfback Tom Dearden, still just 17, will start at halfback for the Broncos.
The 17-year-old, after making waves at schoolboy level last year for Palm Beach Currumbin on the Gold Coast, has been given a chance to continue that form this weekend in Warwick.
The Mackay product is just one of three young playmakers under lock and key at Red Hill who will see minutes against Queensland Cup outfit Souths-Logan.
Dearden's authority at training has impressed his more-senior teammates, who expect him to live up to the hype.
"He's shown us how good he is; he's deserved every accolade he's got lately and seem like a pretty special player," Turpin said.
"And he's definitely confident. That's one of the things that stands out to us.
"He's not afraid to get in front of some of the senior players and call it ... it's a credit to himself for coming in and not being scared."
Mago said the teenager would learn plenty from training alongside incumbent halfback Kodi Nikorima.
"We all rate him and he's only going to grow," he said.
"I haven't seen much of him but have definitely heard a lot. It'll be good for him to get out there and show it."