Payne Haas has credited hard defensive lessons in a 40-4 thrashing from Melbourne for his stunning return to form against the Cowboys as he continue his own relentless quest for perfection.
Haas was man of the match in last week’s 18-14 win over the Cowboys where he ran for 236 metres and made 30 tackles with none missed.
That perfect defensive display was inspired on part by his performance in the Storm clash where the 19-year-old was unhappy with several misses.
"Against the Storm I missed four tackles and I had to work on my tackling. This week I have to work on a bit more stuff in my wrestle. Every week I am trying to learn and improve," Haas said ahead of Brisbane’s home clash with Penrith on Friday night.
"It is the little things I have got to learn. Seibs [coach Anthony Seibold] and I have spoken about that, just the little efforts in a game I have got to keep on working at. Our defence was the key last week and we knew that."
It is Haas’s capacity for self-reflection and a determination to never be satisfied that led to him bristling at the suggestion that he now felt "settled" in the Broncos side after enjoying a stellar season that has him on track to be the NRL rookie of the year.
Match Highlights: Cowboys v Broncos
"I don’t think I want to use 'settled' as a word. Every week you have got to be on your toes so I think settled is not the right word," Haas said.
"I think I am just finding my balance and playing consistent footy. Every week I have high expectations of myself and high standards, and I try and hold myself to those."
He is still a teenager and yet to play a full season in the top grade but Broncos veteran Andrew McCullough said Haas was setting a benchmark of excellence that was an example for all members of the side.
"He doesn’t get complacent. He is is his own harshest critic and he looked at a couple of things in his game that he needed to fix up and rightly so," McCullough said.
"That is what you want to see and that is a good lesson for not just younger players. All footballers in general need to turn up with a mindset from Monday of wanting to improve and get better."
Haas is eager to play finals football for the first time but first up on the eighth-placed Broncos’ agenda is taking on the Panthers forwards and stopping rampaging back-rower Viliame Kikau.
"He is a menace in attack," Haas said.
"He is pretty hard to tackle. He is a big bloke, fast and with good footwork. We have got to do a job on him this week and make sure we identify him and take the metres off him.
Broncos aiming to lift intensity
"They are on a pretty good run and they are always fiery. They will be ready for us and I can’t wait for the challenge.
"We are trying every week to get that finals spot and we need our Broncos fans and members to get behind us the next three weeks that we are at home.
"We will get what we deserve. Seibs speaks about that every week. If we put in the work I think we will get what we deserve."
The Newcastle-born Haas is a keen student of the game and has watched old tapes of finals series, including the 1997 title win by the Knights where one of his idols Paul ‘Chief’ Harragon was a key figure.
"All the grand finals stand out. I am a Newcastle boy and I remember watching old tapes of them when they won it and it was pretty crazy scenes," Haas said.
“The Chief was one of the greatest props to do it. He is a Newcastle lad too and his name speaks for itself."