Headspinning Haas salary package pours cold water on ‘underpaid’ narrative
Court documents have revealed Broncos prop Payne Haas’ eye watering contract increase while he was still a teenager. That and plenty more in the updated Sports Confidential.
IT is the $3 million bonanza that pours cold water on suggestions Broncos prop Payne Haas is underpaid in the NRL.
Court documents obtained by Sport Confidential have lifted the lid on the stunning pay rise Haas received – while still a teenager – amid a poaching bid for the rising Broncos star from the Parramatta Eels.
Haas launched legal proceedings against his former agent Chris Orr, alleging in part that the Broncos prop was not being paid market value on his current Brisbane contract, which expires at the end of 2024.
But court documents show Haas’ first Broncos contract, signed when he was 16, was worth a total of $445,000 over three years. Two years later, at age 18, Haas inked a second Broncos contract worth a staggering $3.39 million over five years.
That’s a head-spinning salary-package increase of 661 per cent! At a time when many Australians in the general workforce would be lucky to get a five per cent pay rise, Haas can count himself one of the truly lucky ones.
And it can get even better for Haas. If the Broncos prop chooses to sign a proposed six-year extension approved by Brisbane’s board, he will become the first $1 million prop in the club’s 34-year history.
The Broncos have done well to keep Haas at Red Hill. Court documents show the Eels also sent an email to his agent expressing an interest in Haas in July, 2016. They offered to “host him at the footy”, presumably an Eels game. That same year, Haas went close to joining the Storm, only to become a Bronco after a meeting with then Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett
WILL MARTIN DETHRONE NIU?
They say a week is a long time in politics. In rugby league, two weeks can make or break a career.
Niu started the 2022 season as Brisbane’s first-choice fullback, but his latest hamstring breakdown against Penrith three weeks ago has opened the door for Martin to take a stranglehold on the Broncos’ No. 1 jumper.
Niu, who suffered a grade-three tear against the premiers, is sidelined for at least another eight weeks.
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The dilemma for Niu is that by the time he is fit, Martin may have well and truly dethroned him as the Broncos’ pre-eminent fullback.
Luckily for Niu, he is off-contract at the end of next year, giving him time to fight his way back, but the seasons pass quickly in the NRL and the jury remains out on whether the 20-year-old is best suited to the fullback role.
The former Tongan Test ace looked shaky under the high ball in the opening rounds of the season. By contrast, Martin – back in the NRL after overcoming his horrendous brain-bleed ordeal – was a revelation for the Broncos in his first two games as Niu’s replacement.
Such has been the off-contract Martin’s form, the Broncos are keen to hand him a new two-year contract, a scenario that will have alarm bells ringing for Niu.
Martin has looked far more composed than Niu at the back, particularly chiming in on sweeping backline movements, and even Broncos coach Kevin Walters has noticed the calmness the 26-year-old has brought to Brisbane’s structures.
“Te Maire is doing a great job,” he said. “I can see at training and at games, the influence he has and he is helping Adam with our spine and being more creative with what he does.
“He is doing such a good job for us at fullback, so we will keep him there for the minute and let him progress as best as he can.”
CAPE FEAR OVER NECK MYSTERY
BRONCOS coach Kevin Walters is sweating on the welfare of Kurt Capewell amid fears his neck injury could be worse than originally feared.
In a blow for the Broncos, Capewell was not named for Brisbane’s round 9 clash against the Rabbitohs. Brisbane have been tight-lipped about the exact nature of Capewell’s injury, but there are suggestions the Queensland Origin utility is battling a bulging disc in his neck.
Former Queensland Origin greats Gorden Tallis and Matt Scott both had surgery on their necks and never recaptured their brilliant best upon return.
It is understood neck specialists were at Broncos headquarters on Wednesday discussing the Capewell situation, but Walters remains hopeful his vice-captain will be on deck for next week’s clash against Manly.
“We’re expecting both Kurt and Payne to play next week, but it depends on how quickly they can recover,” he said.
“Kurt’s injury has been aggravated over time.
“He hurt himself the other day drying himself with a towel. His recovery has been good and Kurt was training with the guys (on Wednesday), which is a good sign.
“If you saw him Sunday or Monday, he was in a fair bit of pain. Knowing ‘Capes’ and the professional he is, he will be doing everything he can to be right for next week.”
THE PAYNE-FUL TRUTH FOR HAAS
LATRELL’S HORROR ORIGIN DIAGNOSIS
It’s official. Souths and NSW sensation Latrell Mitchell is out of Origin I in a major boost for Queensland’s hopes of reclaiming interstate supremacy.
Broncos centre Kotoni Staggs has rocketed into the frame to make his NSW Origin debut in the series opener on June 8 at Homebush and a bumper display against Souths tonight – at the same ground – will virtually seal his place.
Just days ago, NSW coach Brad Fittler hinted there was a slight possibility Mitchell could be available for Game One, pending his return from the United States, where he is having treatment on his hamstring injury.
But Souths CEO Blake Solly has ended any hope of Mitchell running onto Homebush’s Accor Stadium for the Origin series opener.
While Mitchell is scheduled to return to Australia before the start of Origin I, there will not be enough time for the Maroons’ 2021 nemesis to be rushed into NSW camp to wear a sky-blue jumper.
“Latrell will fly back just before Origin I but he won’t play in Origin I,” confirmed Solly, who also dismissed concerns Souths are worried about Mitchell’s career.
“He is going to a very intensive rehab, fitness and recovery centre in Philadelphia.
“The idea is that going there will increase Latrell’s longevity as a player in the NRL, but also mean when he comes back to play after the injury, he is fitter and stronger than he ever has been before.”
The news will come as a major relief for the Maroons, who were terrorised last year by NSW’s centre pairing of Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic.
While Trbojevic (knee) also battled injury, the Manly ace will return against the Tigers on Saturday and he could have a new Origin centre partner in Staggs.
The Broncos strike weapon has been in sizzling form over the past month and Fittler revealed last week Staggs’ main rival, Stephen Crichton, is unlikely to be blooded in the Origin arena this year.
Solly, meanwhile, dismissed concerns for Mitchell’s NRL career and said he will not be given any left-field injections involving calves blood or other substances.
“The trip is not as expensive as people might think,” he said.
“A lot of AFL clubs have used Bill Knowles and so have rugby union clubs in the UK and Premier League soccer teams, so if Latrell comes back and he is closer to full fitness, we will get the benefits in the last 12 or 13 weeks of the season.
“Travis Touma, our head of high performance, has sent players to the same place in America previously and had a really good experience and result out of it, so he was the one who suggested it.”
“It’s all gym and conditioning work,” he said. “There’s no injections or left-field treatments. It’s purely exercises and athletic development work to strengthen his body and hamstring.”
TAYLOR’S TITANIC PAY CUT
RETIRED NRL star Ash Taylor is set for a rude shock when it comes to being paid in the real world after choosing his new career.
Taylor this week confirmed Sport Confidential’s Good Friday report that his time at the top level of rugby league was over due to persistent hip problems.
Taylor infamously pocketed $3 million throughout his controversial three-year contract with the Gold Coast Titans, which expired last year.
He went from earning $20,000 a week to $1000 a week with the Warriors this year after being handed a one-season lifeline.
But Taylor couldn’t overcome his painful injuries and has been forced to retire.
He will return to Toowoomba and is studying to become a teacher’s aide, which comes with an average pay rate of $30 per hour.
At least Taylor will no longer have to deal with the pressures of being one of the highest earners in the NRL.
PROCTOR FAILS TO REPAY FAITH
TITANS fans were outraged by coach Justin Holbrook’s decision to start veteran Kevin Proctor and bench David Fifita against the Panthers – and rightly so.
Statistics compiled by Fox Sports Lab show Proctor had only one run for zero metres in 44 minutes on the field.
Proctor was originally credited with 2m for his sole carry, but statisticians reviewed the match and decided he did not make any ground with the ball.
It was a woeful attacking performance by Proctor, who is quickly losing touch with the speed of the NRL.
He gets a chance to redeem himself against the Roosters on Saturday after Fifita copped a knee injury.
The 282-game veteran has been a wonderful servant but his time in the NRL appears to be coming to an end.
BRONCOS BOLTER IN MAROON
THE State of Origin series traditionally throws up a bolter for NSW or Queensland. This year, the Maroons could do worse than keep an eye on Broncos tough guy Keenan Palasia.
The late-blooming Palasia has been one of Brisbane’s most consistent players in the first two months of the 2022 premiership.
The 25-year-old has amassed 948 metres at an average of 118m per game and racked up 218 tackles with an efficiency rate of 91.8 per cent, defensive numbers that would give Queensland coach Billy Slater confidence Palasia would not be a liability in the Origin arena.
The front row is Queensland’s problem area. Christian Welch (achilles) is out of the Origin series, while incumbent props Mo Fotuaika, Tom Flegler and Frank Molo are not certainties for selection for Game One.
Queensland scouts had massive wraps on Palasia and Jaydn Su’A, once rating them the state’s finest young forwards. Palasia represented Queensland’s under-20s in 2017 before he had a shocking run with injuries, including two knee reconstructions.
FERMOR FOR MAROONS
TITANS backrower Beau Fermor is pushing hard for Queensland State of Origin selection on the back of teammate David Fifita’s knee injury.
Fermor’s quest for a Maroons jersey received an unfortunate boost with Fifita ruled out for up to a month, putting him in doubt for Origin I on June 8.
The Titans’ poor form isn’t helping Fermor’s case, but he is hopeful of selection.
“I’m good mates with Dave so I hope he is back and gets his Origin jersey,” Fermor said.
“If there is a spot there for me I will take it with both hands and rip in as hard as I can.
“If I got that opportunity it’d be a dream come true. I’ve got to keep performing consistently every week.
“I’ll be stoked if I get picked. If I don’t I’ll work harder to get in there for game two.
“I’d do anything for that jersey. I would be excited to do my job and everything I can to help the team perform well. If I get that opportunity I won’t let anyone down.”
COTTER LOVES A SPEAR
COWBOYS forward utility Reuben Cotter isn’t only a gun on the field – he is pretty handy with a spear as well.
Cotter has discovered a love for spearfishing after buying a 6m fibreglass boat in the off-season.
Cotter and his Cowboys teammates head out to the reef on days off to catch a feed of fish.
“I’ve been getting into it a fair bit lately,” Cotter said.
“We live in one of the best places to do it and I got a boat at the start of the year and have been loving it.
“The crew changes a bit. Some blokes are keener than others.
“I normally go with Reece Robson, Tommy Dearden is always keen, Griffin Neame sometimes.”
Cotter is hoping to get some fishing tips from former Cowboys prop Scott Bolton, who has become a commercial fisherman in his post-footy career.
DOLPHINS HONOUR ARTIE
THE Roosters have thrown their support behind plans to play new NRL franchise the Dolphins in round one next year to honour Queensland icon Arthur Beetson.
The Dolphins have put in a request for their historic first game next season to be against Artie’s former club the Roosters, rather than Brisbane rivals the Broncos.
Dolphins CEO Terry Reader says the Roosters are fully supportive of the fixture proposal to launch the 2023 season.
“We want to run out on Suncorp in round one next year against the Roosters,” Reader said.
“Arthur Beetson is a legend of both those clubs and one thing he wrote in his book was his dream to see the Dolphins play the Roosters before he passed away (Beetson died in 2011).
“We would like to think we can bring that to life for his family and his club and we hope to open up in March next year.
“We have spoken to the Roosters and they are very supportive of our idea. We spoke to them during the bid process as part of our strategy and how our draw might look to give us the best chance of launching our club successfully.”
PUNTERS TIPPING A KNIGHTMARE
THE Cowboys have been tipped to put a cricket score on the struggling Knights this weekend.
Following Melbourne’s hammering of the Knights, TAB has taken significant outlays on North Queensland winning by 30-plus points in Townsville on Saturday night.
“We’ll definitely be keeping a close on that score if the Cowboys start to run riot,” said TAB’s Rohan Welsh.
“A victory by 30-plus is at $5 odds at the moment but plenty of sharp punters took the early value, including one having $1,000 at $6.50.
“The Cowboys are the shortest they’ve been in a long time, and have also been the big premiership movers, cut from $81 into $26 over the past few weeks.”
In contrast Newcastle’s on the nose with punters and at the longest odds of any team at $251.
COACH IN EYE OF THE STORM
WHICH paranoid NRL coach keeps asking one of his star players for insights into Melbourne’s training methods? The coach in question should worry about getting his own backyard in order.
Former Gold Coast Titans co-captains and State of Origin enemies Greg Bird and Nate Myles playing a round of golf together at Coolangatta-Tweed.
BIG DADDY IS BACK
LUCAS Browne refuses to let age weary him.
A year after his shock loss to NRL legend Paul Gallen, the former world heavyweight champion will be back in the ring to face Junior Fa on the undercard of the George Kambosos-Devin Haney blockbuster in Melbourne on June 5.
Just turned 43, Browne’s career appeared over when he suffered a dismal first-round loss to Gallen, but he bounced back in December with a seventh-round knockout of former Australian kingpin Faiga Opelu.
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Now, ‘Big Daddy’ is determined to soldier on against Fa, who has 10 knockouts from 19 fights with just one career defeat. The pair will battle for the WBA Oceania heavyweight title.
Browne (30-3, 26KO) still has a savage right hand and has been sparring rising star Justis Huni to help him prepare for Fa.
Originally published as Headspinning Haas salary package pours cold water on ‘underpaid’ narrative