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Contract dispute won't derail the Payne train for NSW

Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues prop Payne Haas said he’s thankful that he and coach Brad Fittler could talk through the issue of his NRL contract and not allow it to derail his Origin preparations.

Haas is in the middle of a tug-of-war between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans, which came to a climax last Friday at Suncorp Stadium when the former bounced back from a 24-4 half-time deficit to win 35-24.

“I’m grateful to be here and humbled that Freddy chose me again with all that’s been going on the past week,” Haas told

“What I’m going through is nowhere near as major as what others are doing right now – people who’ve lost their homes and businesses in the floods or fires we’ve seen recently.

“I look at all that and my situation is much easier.”

But Haas admitted he was a little anxious that Fittler might not feel the same way.

“He gave me a text the night before I played the Titans asking if I was going to be distracted and I told him I’d be fine,” Haas said.

“I told him ‘It’s just footy’ and I know I have a job to do both for the Broncs and for NSW.

“We talked it through. He knows that whatever the task is at hand, I’m going to be right to see it through.”

Fittler said he needed some reassurance that Haas’ contract talks would not play an unwanted part in the front rower’s mindset during the Blue camp.

“Because it was last week – it was a distraction without a doubt and I think we saw that on the weekend,” Fittler said of the Broncos lacklustre start to the Titans match.

“I spoke with someone in the Brisbane administration, I spoke to Payne, I spoke to his management. It was just one of those situations that got out of control quick.

“And after speaking to all those parties I’m happy that Payne won’t be distracted.”

Being one of the Broncos’ highest-profile and most effective work horses on the field meant he suffered a backlash from the Brisbane fans on Friday night – they booed him at the start.

“Well, it would have been handy if we were playing (Game One) in Brisbane because he’d be used to it,” Fittler said, when asked his reaction to the crowd’s jeers.

“Look I think he’s learnt a lot without a doubt – he’s only 22 and he’s been on a steeper learning curve than most.

“He’s a smart kid and he’ll be ready.”

Haas told that packing his bags to come to Sydney and join the Blues camp was a big relief.

“It was good to know I’m catching up with the boys again, but it was very tough leaving my one-year-old daughter Lalita behind,” he said.

“I learnt so much from the Origin camp last year.

“I’m still only 22 which people tend to forget. I still have a lot of improvement in me and I’ve still got a lot to learn about my game.

“I can’t wait for Game One this year. It’s such a wonderful arena to play in.”

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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