Broncos winger Corey Oates says the phenomenal performance by teenage prop Payne Haas in the 22-16 loss to the Wests Tigers has set a benchmark for the rest of the team to follow as they look to turn around a horror start to 2019.
Haas, in his first starting game in the NRL, was Brisbane’s best player on the park in 62 minutes of non-stop attack and defence that showed some of his teammates up.
Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold has spoken often about the "effort areas" he looks for in a player and Haas had plenty of them with 167 metres from 17 runs. He also made 45 tackles and missed just two.
One of those misses was on Michael Chee Kam when he scored his match-winning try but a gassed Haas wasn’t the only defender left clutching at air.
Clearly pumped to be back after serving a club-imposed four-match suspension for failing to co-operate with the NRL Integrity Unit, Haas adopted the type of "run hard, tackle hard, do your job" approach the Broncos will need from all 17 players on the park if they are to resurrect their season.
Match Highlights: Broncos v Wests Tigers
"That was a great effort by a big man with a big engine," Oates told NRL.com.
"If he can stay on the field and keep getting those numbers it is going to be great for our team. If everyone sees him doing that each week it is hopefully going to make everyone else lift for the team."
Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold said he "pretty much thought that was what we’d get that out of him".
"That is one of the reasons I started him. He’s been outstanding at training with his conditioning levels and the output that he has produced," Seibold said.
“For a 19-year-old kid in the first game he’s started to play 60-odd minutes, and show a lot of energy and a lot of vigour, showed he has a whole lot of potential at this level. He is disappointed about missing the tackle at the end but that is footy."
Another bright spot for the Broncos was the performance of 19-year-old David Fifita, who had a key hand in Kodi Nikorima's second-half try and showed great game awareness to grubber for himself only to lose the ball over the line.
Jack Bird also bombed a try with the line wide open after Oates had been set free down the left flank.
It is the potential shown by the Brisbane young guns and the opportunities created in the game that had Oates still confident the Broncos' 1-4 start is not terminal for their top-eight aspirations.
"We are moving in the right direction. Errors hurt us again but I feel as though we fixed up a lot of things with our structures that worked well," Oates said.
"There were two or three tries that we should have scored but with a little slip of concentration it wasn't to be. That is fixable and when we do get it right I feel as though we will still be a tough team to beat."