17 STARS OF 2017 | Payne Haas

To kick off 2017, we take a look at some of the up-and-coming male and female stars who will hope to represent NSW this year and in the future. We wrap up this series with a young gun who's caught the eye of NRL and NFL clubs alike: Payne Haas.

If you don’t know the name yet, you will soon: Payne Haas, one of the most talked-about players under the age of 18.

Haas caused significant ripples through NRL club land in 2016, as he neared the end of his scholarship contract with the Warriors. Every single NRL club was reported to have been after the 16-year-old’s signature, along with interest from NFL scouts – and by simply looking at Haas’s bulking frame, it’s easy to see why. At 116kg and 196cm, Haas has long stood head and shoulders above many of his teammates at renowned Rugby League nursery Keebra Park High School and has already drawn comparisons with 2016 Dally M Medallist Jason Taumololo. He is taller than Taumololo – and growing – and as a skilful front-rower, his prospects as an NFL star were clear for many to see.

In June, Haas was one of just two players outside of the NSWRL’s junior representative system to be selected for the NSW Under-18s, thanks to some eye-opening form for the Gold Coast Green in the Mal Meninga Cup (under-18s) and in the GIO Schoolboys Cup. As the youngest in the team he was awarded a 42-minute stint off the bench, making the mostof it with 74 metres and 17 tackles. He would earn Australian Schoolboys selection later in the year.

Ultimately, a heart-to-heart conversation with Wayne Bennett lured Haas to the Brisbane Broncos, where he will attempt to break into the Holden Cup side this year. He is certainly a NSW prospect, however, with a view to represent the NSW Under-18 side once again in 2017.