Last chance: Prop’s pledge to repair bad boy image
Payne Haas admits his career is on the line and has vowed not to drag Brisbane's famous brand through the mud again as he prepares for his return to the NRL on Friday night against the Storm.
In his only interview, Haas opened up to The Courier-Mail about his image, his brushes with the NRL integrity unit and the debt he owes to his Broncos teammates - starting against premiers Melbourne at AAMI Park.
The hulking 118kg prop will launch his 2021 campaign against the Storm after being suspended for three games and fined $50,000 by the NRL for an alcohol-fuelled off-field incident at Tweed Heads in January.
At just 21, Haas has become one of the most polarising figures in rugby league.
Since bursting onto the scene as a teenage sensation in 2018, Haas has twice fallen foul of the NRL integrity unit, amassing seven matches in suspensions and $70,000 in fines in a chequered start to his 41-game top-grade career.
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Broncos legend Petero Civoniceva last week implored Haas not to waste his rare talent and the NSW Origin prop concedes he doesn't want to be known as a rugby league bad boy.
"It can go two ways for me now," Haas said ahead of his front-row clash with the Storm.
"Petero Civoniceva is right ... I can either go off the rails and put my career in jeopardy, or I behave myself from here on in and achieve my potential in the game.
"I can tell you now, I won't be stuffing up again.
"Hopefully the rewards will come for me down the track, but to do that I need to be playing good football and it starts again for me this week against the Storm."
There is added incentive for Haas to evolve into a squeaky-clean leader at the Broncos. In two months' time, he will become a father, with he and partner Leilani set to welcome the arrival of their baby girl.
Haas is so respected internally at the Broncos he is regarded as a future captain, but Brisbane bosses won't tolerate another indiscretion that would put his $3 million contract in jeopardy.
"I'm determined to do the right thing," he said.
"I've stuffed up twice now and it has to stop. I don't want a third strike.
"The time out of the game gave me time to reflect.
"I am going to be a father soon. I also have younger brothers and sisters who look up to me, so it's time to grow up and be a role model for my family and the game in general.
"I can't wait to be a dad, it's only eight weeks away. I'm excited but nervous at the same time. My partner has been great through this period and I'm ready to be a dad. We're having a girl, so it will be a life-changing experience.
"I had to have a good look at how I carry myself. What I did is not who I am. I have gone through a rough patch, but I've had a good look in the mirror and asked myself what kind of person I want to be known as."
Haas admits he is still coming to terms with the shock death of his disabled brother Chace, who tragically passed away last August.
"It was really tough losing Chace," he said.
"It was just so out of the ordinary. It was a shock. One week, he was fine, then he got sick and the next week, he was gone.
"It was so sudden. Chace basically got sick and his immune system couldn't recover from it. He was my biggest fan.
"I've tried to move on with life the best way I can, but losing Chace can't be an excuse for my wrongdoings."
When he runs onto AAMI Park on Friday night, Haas will not only play for the memory of his biggest fan and best mate, but the Broncos teammates who sorely missed his midfield presence in the opening three weeks.
"Watching the guys play the first three weeks, I felt bad within myself," he said.
"I'm a team-first person and sitting on the sidelines didn't help their cause.
"We lost the first two games and part of that was my fault. Our front row was depleted and I should have been out there leading the way.
"Hopefully the result would have changed if I was out there. I don't like seeing the Broncos losing and I want to help repay the club with some wins.
"It's important I make an impact this week. I love playing with this group of guys and they will be looking to me to do my job in the middle. The Storm are the benchmark, they won the comp last year so it's a huge test for me. It's always a big challenge coming up against guys like Jesse Bromwich and Nelson Asofa-Solomona.
"I'm a bit nervous this week, not being able to play for so long, I don't know how I will go but hopefully once I get that first carry I will be sweet.
"I just know I owe the boys for letting them down."
Originally published as Last chance: Prop's pledge to repair bad boy image