NRL farce: ‘Can’t believe it, I’m astonished’
WEIGHING in at 120kg and standing just under 2m tall, teenage giant Payne Haas is a big boy - and he probably hasn't stopped growing yet.
But as mountainous as the Newcastle-born Broncos star is, a shoulder from Bulldogs wrecking ball David Klemmer isn't something you take lightly.
Haas caught the full brunt of Klemmer's deltoid to his chin while running it straight for Brisbane in their 22-20 win over the Bulldogs. The hefty blow left the 18-year-old scattered and struggling to stay on his feet as he played the ball.
Dazed, he was brought off the ground immediately with fears of him missing footy for a month growing.
But surprisingly, the rookie prop was included on the Broncos' roster in the reserves for their round 10 clash against the Manly Sea Eagles.
NSW great Mark Geyer was shaking his head at the lapse in judgement to let the youngster run on the field at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
"We heard he might be coming back, I'm astonished by that," Geyer said. "He didn't cop a glancing blow, he copped a shoulder of a 120 kg monster in Klemmer. It was all legitimate, but he didn't just walk off the field, he fell."
Haas hurt his ankle as his hulking frame collapsed on the grass after the Klemmer hit.
"The sudden knock to the head made him go limp straight away, his ankle went right under him," Geyer said.
"I'm astounded an 18-year-old (is allowed to play). In a day and age of win at all costs, that is just so yesterday it's not funny."
"Our knowledge of head knocks over the last decade has been profound. We now know how bad brain injuries are to rugby league players. Your brain is still growing at 18. This kid is not 19 until December, like come on he's played two NRL games, he's not that desperate to play this weekend again Manly.
"The NRL should intervene. Watching the vision again this morning I can't believe he is playing. I really can't."
Former NRL star Matty Johns echoed Geyer's sentiments, confirming he didn't think Haas had the slightest chance to be named.
Haas trained fully at Red Hill on Wednesday morning and, barring any further mishaps, should start on the interchange bench on Saturday night.
"First reports said that he had a bad ankle sprain, but credit to him," Broncos forward Korbin Sims said.
"He's obviously stuck to his rehab, tried to rehab it as best he can.
"He's a young kid, he'll be right. He's a tough dude as well. "If he's going to play he's going to be very lively for us off the bench."
The match on Saturday - which is part of a double-header and nominally a Manly home game - would be only the third in the NRL for Haas but already he has shown enough to be anointed as a superstar of the future.
Sims said he was continually amazed by how well the 18-year-old has handled the step up and all the hype around him, which was partly down to coach Wayne Bennett's canny management.
"Coming into first grade, he's a big body but you've got to remember that he's still quite young," he said.
"That's what Wayne does well. In his first two games he hasn't played him in the first half where the arm wrestle is won and lost.
"He's going to do well for us this year, depending on how many games he plays.
"If he gets right this weekend I expect big things from him."
Sims also expects Matthew Lodge, another front-rower under an injury cloud, to line up as named against Manly.
Lodge is battling an ongoing ribs problem and has been eased through training but should be right to play.