Haas inspired by the spirit of Artie
Broncos sensation Payne Haas has revealed how watching footage of Queensland icon Arthur Beetson has been the driving force behind his emergence as the best teenage prop in the NRL.
NRL Immortal Andrew Johns was left in awe of Haas' ability after he charged for 201m in Brisbane's 28-6 defeat of Canterbury on Thursday night - the third time this season Haas has exceeded 200m in a game.
"Can you imagine this bloke in four or five years?" Johns said of Haas in Channel 9 commentary. "It's scary how good he can be."
For all his youth, the key to Haas' success is his passion for the history of rugby league, his understanding of the nuances of the position he plays and his knowledge of forward luminaries such as Beetson.
Haas was one day shy of his 12th birthday when "Big Artie" tragically died after suffering a heart attack while exercising on the Gold Coast in 2011, but the Broncos bookend has not forgotten the Beetson legacy.
Maroons legend Beetson was a trailblazer, becoming the first indigenous man to captain an Australian sporting team in 1973.
Growing up on the Gold Coast, Haas was made to watch tapes of rugby league's greatest props by his father Gregor. Beetson, a ball-playing genius who famously led Queensland on to Lang Park in State of Origin's inaugural clash in 1980, was at the top of the list.
"I watched everyone coming up," said Haas, Brisbane's biggest player at 118kg.
"Dad would make me watch the old front-rowers like Glenn Lazarus and even Arthur Beetson … I used to watch games of his.
"I am trying to take everyone's games bit by bit and try and put it into my own game."
Another, more contemporary, inspiration is former Canberra and New Zealand hitman Ruben Wiki.
As a 16-year-old, Haas left the Gold Coast and spent 12 months as a development player at the Warriors, where he met Wiki, who was working as the club's strength-and-conditioning coach.
Wiki, a 311-game NRL legend, was renowned for his brutal hitting power and formed an instant bond with Haas, who left Warriors players stunned when he began 'rag-dolling' forwards 10 years his senior at wrestling sessions.
"I got to meet Ruben Wiki," said Haas, who has played just 15 first-grade games. "He is a good dude, he is a mad dude, he still trains hard and stays in shape.
"I used to talk to him a lot and pick his brain.
"He was one of the best forwards so I wanted to learn stuff from him. I learnt a lot about work ethic from him and staying consistent. I knew who he was from his Canberra days and his runs from the kick-off were legendary."
NSW Origin prop Haas is averaging a staggering 170 metres and 35 tackles per game this season and attributes his weekly output to Brisbane hunting as a pack.
"It (his monster metres) is more a credit to my teammates," he said. "They make it easier for me, I am playing with a star-studded forward pack, and guys like 'Lodgey' (Matt Lodge), Tevita (Pangai Jr) and David Fifita make it easier for me to succeed.
"It's just more a case of wanting to do my job every week. Our aim every week as a forward pack is to put it over other forward packs."