Nikorima ready for halfback role
An 18-year-old man mountain with a cardiovascular system Roger Federer would be proud of is set to be unleashed by the Brisbane Broncos in their opening trial clash with the CQ Capras in Theodore on Saturday night.
Established Broncos forwards Alex Glenn, Korbin Sims and Andrew McCullough have been blown away by prop Payne Haas’s aerobic capacity at training for such a giant of a young man.
That comes as no surprise to his Keebra Park High School coach Glen Campbell who said his former pupil’s endurance even had him scratching his head.
"Payne is a quality kid, driven and he has a huge work rate because he has got a massive cardiovascular system, one that Roger Federer or any marathon runner would be proud of," Campbell told NRL.com.
"When he was at school with us he would win all our 800m and 1200m races, backs included.
"For a schoolboy who weighs 116 kilos and is six foot four, to be continually leading backs home on an 800m run is something special, so the Broncos certainly aren’t telling any lies.
"Payne has put the hard work in himself but how he does it is quite amazing, but he told me his dad has some Swiss heritage so maybe that has come down through the generations with their ability at cycling and cross-country skiing.”
Haas, who played under 20s last year for Brisbane, has also made an impression on his Broncos teammates with his no-nonsense mentality, but it is his stamina everyone is talking about.
"Most of those endurance athletes like cross-country skiers and marathon runners have got a massive VO2 max and although I didn’t test Payne, his would be pretty impressive with how much oxygen his body could uptake per breathe," Campbell said.
“Cross-country skiers and marathon runners have a very high VO2 max.
"When we’d break our training up with some 8km runs Payne would always finish in the top three, so he was very impressive on that front."
Campbell said Haas would not let coach Wayne Bennett down in Saturday night’s trial when he starts in the front row.
"Wayne will make the call on how he uses him obviously but I can assure the Broncos that Payne won’t shirk his work or take a backward step," Campbell said.
"He is extremely humble and has a quiet sort of confidence about him. He doesn’t say much but he gets the job done."
Haas, previously in the Warriors system, was a member of the 2016 Keebra Park side that was runner-up to Westfield Sports High in the GIO Cup
"He is only a pup as far as I am concerned and doesn’t turn 19 until December, so at school he always gave a head start in age to all the boys but he played big minutes," Campbell said.
"We’d put him on for 25 minutes of a 30-minute half and then he’d play the entire second half for us."
Saturday night’s trial will feature Super League signing Andre Savelio in the back row for the Broncos for the first time while another highly rated young forward David Fifita lines up on the bench.
Todd Murphy, who could yet play in the top 17 in the Telstra Premiership as a bench utility, gets to show his wares in the starting five-eighth jersey.
The side will be coached by Wayne Bennett's assistant Kurt Richards.
Broncos: 1. Jamayne Isaako, 2. Corey Allan, 3. Tom Opacic, 4. Gehamat Shibasaki, 5. Moses Pangai, 6. Todd Murphy, 7. Shaun Nona, 8. George Fai, 9. Jake Turpin, 10. Payne Haas, 11. Salesi Funaki, 12. Andre Savelio, 13. Patrick Mago. Bench: 14. Gerome Burns, 15. David Fifita, 16. Thomas Flegler, 17 Patrick Carrigan, 18. Myles Taueli, 19. Keenan Palasaia, 20. Eddie Blacker, 21 Kotoni Staggs.