True Blue Paul Sironen believes Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler would be keeping a close eye on Haumole Olakau’atu following the Many Warringah Sea Eagles back-rower’s strong start to the season.
Olakau’atu was named in Fittler’s Future Blues squad last season and has scored four tries, made three line breaks and averaged 104 running metres for the Sea Eagles this season.
“He’s a handful alright,” Sironen told Behind Blue Eyes for nswrl.com.au.
“He can run – he’s a powerful player, good defender and can chase a kick too.
“He’ll certainly be putting his hand up.”
Sironen also praised Brisbane Broncos and NSW Blues prop Payne Haas, who will make a welcome return from a one-game suspension against Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on Friday night.
He compared Haas to his former representative team-mate and True Blue Glenn Lazarus, who he played alongside for Australia (1990-94) and NSW (1989-94).
“What a player – he’s got a massive engine,” Sironen said.
“The first guy that comes to mind is Glenn Lazarus just because of Lazzo’s work rate and his ability to find his front and get up and play the ball.
“You’re a bit fatigued in a game and you’d turn around and see big Lazzo coming off the line again and having another carry – just a wonderful motor, so again a bit like Payne.”
Haas already has 21 line-breaks from five NRL matches so far, averages 17 hit-ups and 178 metres per game.
“I’ve been fortunate to be involved with Payne since pathways days and he’s always been the same – playing big minutes as a 16, 17-year-old against older boys,” Sironen said.
“He’s always held his own.
“He’s doing that again now. He’s one of the premier front-rowers in our game in the toughest position on the field. He’s one of the standouts.”