Father’s drug charges never swayed Haas Origin focus

Jasper Bruce |

Payne Haas (left) said missing State of Origin for NSW was not an option, despite off-field drama.
Payne Haas (left) said missing State of Origin for NSW was not an option, despite off-field drama.

Even when his father was arrested on drug trafficking charges and threatened with the death penalty, it never crossed Payne Haas’s mind to miss State of Origin.

Brisbane’s superstar prop was on the team bus to the Magic-Round clash against Manly two weekends ago when he heard that his father, Gregor, had been apprehended in the Philippines.

For Haas, it was nothing out of the ordinary to press on through adversity, later compounded by a mid-game ankle injury in the 13-12 win.

Payne Haas.
Payne Haas heard about his father’s arrest in the lead-up to the Broncos’ clash with Manly. (Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS)

At only 24, Haas has already needed to process his mother’s incarceration over her involvement in a fatal car crash, and last year saw his younger brother Zeda facing drug charges that were later withdrawn.

Haas’s priority in tough times has always been to his two younger brothers, who live with him, and his daughter.

“It’s a bit of a tricky one. Obviously everyone knows what’s happened,” said Haas, speaking to his father’s situation for the first time.

“I’m just trying to look after my siblings and try and look after my family that I’ve got in Australia and try to make sure they’re all right. Because what I’m going through, they’re probably going through as well.”

Through everything, footy has always been a safe space for Haas.

“Obviously I grew up in not the best circumstances,” he said.

“But I always use sport or anything as a little escape from everything. I’m sort of used to it now and I just come into footy, and that’s footy. I don’t try and bring my outside personal life into footy.

“There’s lots of people who have got things worse, and I’ve been through worse things in my life.”

It’s why missing State of Origin this year was never an option. 

The four-time Dally M Prop of the Year has become a walk-up starter for the Blues in recent years amid a dearth of other elite front-row options. 

He will partner newly minted captain Jake Trbojevic in the front row come June 5, with the Blues team picked on Sunday suggesting a game plan that will rely on winning the battle in the middle of the field.

“I want to be here,” Haas said.

“This is what you want to do and why you play rugby league growing up, you want to play State of Origin. It never crossed my mind not playing. I’m just privileged and blessed that I get to do that now.”

The Broncos have supported Haas in his hour of need, with Haas singling out coach Kevin Walters, chief executive Dave Donaghy and education and welfare manager Adam Walsh as three pillars of support outside the playing group.

“There’s so many people I can name at the Broncos. They’ve been so good for my family and I,” he said.

But come  Origin I, there’ll be no love lost between Haas and Brisbane teammates Pat Carrigan, Selwyn Cobbo and Reece Walsh, who are lining up for Queensland.

“When we’re on the field, there’s no mates,” Haas said.

AAP