Payne Haas and Matt Lodge have formed a strong partnership in Brisbane. Picture: Darren England
Payne Haas and Matt Lodge have formed a strong partnership in Brisbane. Picture: Darren England

Lodge: Haas is the best I’ve seen

Broncos enforcer Matt Lodge has declared Payne Haas the best young prop he has ever seen in the wake of the teenager's tryscoring heroics that have ignited Brisbane's charge to the finals.

The 120kg Haas scored one of the greatest all-time solo tries on Friday night, producing a 43-metre charge of brutal brilliance to clinch a 24-12 victory at Suncorp Stadium and see Brisbane leapfrog Penrith into seventh spot.

Haas' moment of magic has emboldened the Broncos for the ultimate challenge - a spicy grudge match with South Sydney in sacked Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett's return to Suncorp Stadium this Friday night.

If anyone can appreciate the unique talent of Haas, it is Bennett, whose one-on-one meeting with the hulking prop in 2016 convinced him to sign with the Broncos at a time when all 16 NRL clubs were chasing his signature.

Haas' solo try to stun the Panthers illustrated why every club wanted a piece of him.

Taking the ball near halfway in the 74th minute, the 19-year-old lit up Suncorp Stadium.

He steamrolled Panthers hulk Viliame Kikau. He shrugged off fellow giant James Tamou. He then surged into the open spaces.

More magic followed. With fullback Dylan Edwards to beat, Haas hit top gear, showing incredible mobility for a big man to change direction before kicking out of Edwards' attempt and racing away to rock the foundations of Suncorp Stadium.

 

Haas destroyed the Penrith Panthers at Suncorp Stadium. Picture: Darren England
Haas destroyed the Penrith Panthers at Suncorp Stadium. Picture: Darren England

 

It was only Haas' 20th game in the NRL, but Broncos engine-room cohort Lodge has already seen enough evidence of his ability. Asked if Haas is the best young front-rower he has seen, Lodge was unequivocal.

"Yes, easily," Lodge said.

"I've seen one other try like that by a prop - I remember Andrew Fifita scored one against Canberra five years ago, but that was just freakish from 'Payno'. I was standing back with my hands in the air."

Asked why he believes Haas is the best teenage prop he's seen, Lodge said: "He is a big, athletic forward and it's unbelievable to stand back and watch him sometimes.

"He's not only big and skilful, but a lot of people don't know he is unbelievably tough and mentally tough as well.

"That's why I love playing with him, I know he won't go missing when the going gets tough.

"He trains hard, he comes from a hard-working family and he competes at training.

"We have wrestled one-on-one in wrestling sessions and I've never trained with anyone who competes like him.

"He just has to keep his head down and keep working hard on other parts of his game. I'm really happy and grateful that I get to play with him for the next three to five years."

 

 

Haas' numbers this season are head-spinning. He has 83 tackle busts from 17 games and is averaging 183 metres per match. He has exceeded 200 metres in a game seven times this year and is still fit enough to average 33 tackles per game.

A born competitor who admits hates losing, Haas had only one thought in his mind when he burst clear - finish the job.

"I have no idea how I scored ... I just ran," he said.

"I just stepped off my left foot and got through Kikau and Tamou, then I saw Edwards in front of me and thought I have to go around this bloke. That's how it happened.

"I wasn't fast as a kid. It's a credit to our coaching staff. I wasn't that quick in pre-season but they have worked on my power so it's thanks to the coaching staff for improving me.

"We speak every week about dominating other forward packs. We know we have a young forward pack and we are pretty raw, but we believe in each other's ability."

 

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News Corp Australia


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