Storm want Haas’s head on a plate
BRONCOS coach Anthony Seibold has warned Payne Haas will be Melbourne's "head on a plate" on Friday night as the hulking Brisbane prop prepares to face the Storm club that has twice tried to poach him.
Haas faces the biggest test of his embryonic 17-game NRL career with the 118kg teenager to face Storm monsters Jesse Bromwich and Nelson Asofa-Solomona for the first time in a Suncorp Stadium blockbuster.
The 19-year-old missed Brisbane's season-opener against the Storm due to a club-imposed suspension, sparing Haas of a brutal showdown with Melbourne's premiership engine-room at AAMI Park in March.
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Now the Storm are on Brisbane soil ready to target Haas, and such is their regard for his talent, the NRL's most successful club of the past decade has twice tried to secure his signature in the past three years.
The Storm first showed interest in Haas in 2016 before attempting to blow Brisbane out of the water last year, only for the Broncos to prevail with a six-year, $3.4 million upgrade that keeps Haas at Red Hill until the end of 2024.
NRL Immortal Andrew Johns has already declared Haas can be one of the code's greatest props, and Seibold backed the rookie to muscle-up to Bromwich and 202cm giant Asofa-Solomona.
"I'd imagine that Payne will be Melbourne's head on a plate," Seibold said.
"He has been really good for us the last few weeks so they will put a target on him and test him out.
"That's not a drama for Payne. He is a pretty understated sort of guy.
"He is really looking forward to the challenge, he wasn't in our team for round one when we played them so he will want to test himself against the best and the Storm are the best."
Haas' manager Chris Orr confirmed the Storm went close to securing the NSW Origin sensation's signature in recent years.
"Payne attracted interest from all 16 clubs when he last came off-contract," Orr recalled.
"But really there were only three clubs in the mix, and it came down to Melbourne, Souths and the Broncos.
"Haas thought long and hard about going to Melbourne, he had great respect for their culture under Craig Bellamy, but he was happy at the Broncos and wanted to stay closer to his family."
Haas has amassed more than 200m per game in the past three weeks and is on track to become the first teenage forward in NRL history to post 3000m in a single season.
Seibold worked with Asofa-Solomona as an assistant coach in Melbourne and sees similar growth in Haas.
"Nelson is a little bit older and further down his footy journey than what 'Payno' is but I think we are all aware of the potential and ability that Payne has got," he said.
"Payne and (front-row teammate) Matty Lodge can be as good as they want to be.
"They have the potential to do whatever they do in the game.
"I'm a big believer that you get what you deserve … Payne and Lodge have been our most consistent players this year."