With injuries to the Broncos forward pack the young gun incredibly played the entire 80 minutes at prop.
With injuries to the Broncos forward pack the young gun incredibly played the entire 80 minutes at prop.

Tallis: Haas could be the NRL’s best ever forward

PAYNE Haas has the potential to become one of the greatest forwards in rugby league history.

Haas was incredible in the Broncos' derby win against the North Queensland Cowboys on Friday night in Townsville.

He played 80 minutes in the front row, charged for 199m, busted eight tackles and made 28 without missing one.

All this in just his 25th NRL game and at the age of 20.

I don't know how someone who is 194cm and 119kg can do that. I want to see his DNA to prove he is human.

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With injuries to the Broncos forward pack the young gun incredibly played the entire 80 minutes at prop.
With injuries to the Broncos forward pack the young gun incredibly played the entire 80 minutes at prop.

At the same time, Broncos centre Kotoni Staggs had to be substituted because of cramps. Fullback Jamayne Isaako was also struggling for much of the second half.

They are supposed to be the fittest players on the field, but Haas looked like he couldn't blow out a candle at full-time.

I played in an era of great forwards. Think Shane Webcke, Petero Civoniceva, Glenn Lazarus and Paul Harragon. They were as good as big men get.

I'm not saying Haas will be better than them, but at the same age he is without a doubt ahead.

Even Cowboys Dally M champion Jason Taumalolo (26) wasn't as damaging at 20.

The best young talents I've seen have been Greg Inglis, Jarryd Hayne and Sonny-Bill Williams and I rank Haas alongside them at the same stage of their careers.

I don't judge players purely on ability. Haas was born with a genetic gift and has a unique talent.

When he was a schoolboy he would run over his smaller opposition with minimal effort. But it is another story to do that in the NRL.

Haas works as hard as any forward in the NRL. He is an elite trainer and it proved with his performance in the first game of the season in steamy Townsville conditions.

Could Payne Haas be the among the NRL’s best ever youngsters? Picture: Getty Images.
Could Payne Haas be the among the NRL’s best ever youngsters? Picture: Getty Images.

Haas started the season as a Dally M Medal contender and he will be in the mix to win it if he can keep that type of form up for the rest of the year.

I've been asked if I'd rather have Haas or his Broncos teammate David Fifita in my team.

That's a bit like winning $20 million in Lotto or $20 million in Powerball. You'd take either.

The 70m solo try Fifita scored against the Cowboys was something very few players can do.

Fifita is a different type of player to Haas, but at 20 he also has a special future ahead of him.

The challenge for the Broncos is to get Fifita more involved. Playing on an edge, he only sees the ball when the halves get it to him, unlike Haas who carries it every set.

The Queensland derby was a high-quality affair for a Round 1 game in tough conditions.

In the past it has been dominated by the little guys like Darren Lockyer, Johnathan Thurston and Anthony Milford.

These days it is the big men like Haas, Fifita, Taumalolo and Tevita Pangai Jr that are having the most impact on the result.

I could watch these forward packs battle all year. They are as good as it gets in the NRL.

David Fifita was also brilliant, with an early contender for solo try of the year. Picture: Getty Images.
David Fifita was also brilliant, with an early contender for solo try of the year. Picture: Getty Images.

While the Cowboys lost and are coming off two poor seasons, they will be a finals contender this year.

Valentine Holmes was impressive considering he hadn't played the game for 18 months and he will only get better while Michael Morgan showed some nice touches.

Morgan was unlucky to lose his Captain's Challenge after being ruled to knock-on when it was clear Broncos forward Rhys Kennedy had a hand on the ball.

The Captain's Challenge won't be perfect but hopefully it stops players from arguing every decision with the referee.

If they want to challenge it, go ahead, otherwise stop wasting time and keep playing.

The opening games of the season have been excellent and played at a great pace with fatigue playing a role, so hopefully that style of refereeing can continue.