Webcke: ‘Enormous’ Haas is Origin-ready
Queensland front-row legend Shane Webcke believes Payne Haas is ready for State of Origin as the 19-year-old Broncos sensation moves within striking distance of a stunning Blues debut.
NSW coach Brad Fittler is seriously considering blooding Haas in Origin I on June 5 after the Broncos teenage hulk ramped-up his Blues prospects with a rampaging display in Brisbane's 15-10 upset of the Roosters on Friday night.
Haas terrorised the premiers at Suncorp Stadium - the very ground that will host the 2019 Origin opener - charging for 206 metres and scoring the 16th-minute solo try that rattled the Roosters' cage.
Like Haas, Fittler was an NRL prodigy. He made his Origin debut aged 18 years and 114 days, having played just 12 top-grade games, and is a huge fan of Haas, who plays his 10th NRL match against the Warriors this Saturday night.
It will be Haas' final hitout before the unveiling of the NSW and Queensland teams for Origin I and Webcke, one of the code's greatest front-rowers, is adamant the Broncos monster would relish the code's toughest arena.
"Payne has shown me enough to be picked for Origin," said Webcke, a veteran of 25 Tests and 21 Origin games for the Maroons.
"He is an enormous talent and enormous in every sense of the word.
"When I was a young footballer, the prospect of playing Origin scared the crap out of me. But this generation is different. These young kids are confident.
"Once upon a time, I would have said young front-rowers need time before they are blooded in Origin. They need to get battle-hardened. But the game has changed so much these days. I don't think the young blokes in the NRL are daunted by the step up in class anymore.
"If Payne maintains the form that he is showing at the moment, there's no reason not to blood him off the bench (for NSW) and let him rip and tear."
Roosters coach Trent Robinson, who mentors some of the code's most decorated representative stars including Boyd Cordner and James Tedesco, was blown away by Haas' midfield dominance.
"I've avoided all the Origin (talk) because it's not my job, but the boy (Haas) is playing well … really well," Robinson said.
"There is something about him isn't there?
"There is something about his stamina and power. The mix of those together make him quite unique."
Just two forwards in Origin's 39-year history have made their NSW debuts at a younger age than Haas. Norths' Lindsay Johnston played for the Blues at 19 years and 107 days in 1983, while Canberra sensation Bradley Clyde was blooded in 1989 at 19 years and 116 days.
Haas would be 19 years and 185 days if selected by Fittler for Origin I at Suncorp.
Brisbane's biggest player at 118kg, Haas scored his maiden NRL by crashing past Mitchell Aubusson and Luke Keary and says it would be a dream come true to take on the Maroons.
"I've always wanted to be a Blue," he said.
"I've seen them lose so much as a kid so I've always wanted to beat Queensland.
"It's always cool to be talked about for Origin but I have to stay grounded. I'm focusing on footy at clubland and doing my best for the Broncos, but if that (an Origin debut) comes I will be ready to take it with both hands."