With poor off-field behaviour dominating NRL headlines over the summer, the last thing the game needed was a player refusing to cooperate with the integrity unit – but that’s exactly what it got. Bronco’s young gun Payne Haas has been fined $20,000 by the club and stood down for at least the first four regular season games for refusing to be interviewed by the integrity unit.
Haas was reportedly involved in two off field incidents late last year, both also involving his family members. One incident was a personal dispute that descended into violence, and the other was Haas being in “close vicinity” to a brawl at a QRL semi-final. The brawl reportedly included his brothers and sisters. It is important to note that there is no suggestion that Haas initiated the violence, or even committed any violent acts.
Haas has refused to co-operate with the integrity unit investigating these incidents, which led to the punishment from the Bronco’s (which has been approved by the integrity unit). This leaves him out for the first four matches of the NRL season, which will be a relief for the Bronco’s early opponents!
The 194 cm, 120 kg prop was in great form in the first trial for Brisbane, scoring a try and regularly making metres with ball in hand. His absence will be a big loss for Brisbane, and a gain for Melbourne, North Queensland, St George and Sydney, who all get to face Brisbane without the 19-year-old monster charging at them.
The summer has already featured Jared Hayne and Jack de Belin being charged for sexual assault, in very extreme circumstances if they are in fact guilty. Cowboys player Scott Bolton pled guilty to assault in early January, after the charge was downgraded from indecent assault. Dylan Walker and Ben Barba also both face charges for domestic assault – there is video footage of Barba’s crime, and his contract was torn up on the spot.
Haas’ offence is not on the same level, but he has been hit with the harshest penalty by a club/the NRL (except for Barba). Bolton is free to play, and had no conviction recorded by the courts, while the NRL is awaiting court outcomes before penalising Walker and de Belin. Hayne does not currently have an NRL contract, so the game couldn’t punish him.