Haas withdraws release request to honour Broncos deal, Bennett to lure Sam to Dolphins? Grant in quarantine

Less than a week after demanding a request for an immediate release, Payne Haas has told the Broncos he will stay to honour the rest of his contract.

The sudden turnaround comes a day after the NSW prop said he regretted signing the six-year deal as an 18-year-old which runs until the end of 2024.

Brisbane issued a statement on Wednesday night quoting Haas as now saying he was happy to put his contract negotiations on hold as the fourth-placed Broncos try to make their first finals appearance in three seasons.

“I underestimated the public interest in my contract situation so want to put those discussions on hold and keep my focus where it needs to be,” he said.

“I want the fans to know that they will get nothing but my best every time I pull on a Broncos jersey.”

The Broncos and Haas’s management have agreed to put contract discussions on hold until the end of the season.

Broncos CEO Dave Donaghy said the club was committed to working with Haas and his agent, Tyran Smith, to “help map out the next phase of his career”.

“Everyone at our club holds Payne in the highest regard and we feel it very important to have these confidential conversations at a time of the year when there are no distractions.

“Payne has been a big part of our club for a number of years and we are looking forward to welcoming him back once his State of Origin duties conclude.”

The NSW prop has been trying to extend and upgrade the contract but when negotiations broke down with the Broncos, his management requested an immediate release last week. 

After the club denied the request, he was jeered by Broncos fans at Suncorp Stadium last Friday. 

“I made a mistake signing too long with my last contract,” he told reporters at Blues camp at Coogee on Monday. 

“It is the same deal that they offered me last year. The same exact deal. Six years – my last contract I made a mistake signing too long.

“What’s bothered me the most is that people are saying I’m money hungry. “If I was, I would’ve left Brisbane ages ago.

“I think it’s a fair deal and it’s the same deal they offered me last year, and the Broncos offered that.

“I didn’t ask for it (the new deal) and I’ve asked for less years. It is what it is, I’ll let the club and my manager do the talking.”

Sonny Bill Williams makes a break

(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

“If it was all about money, I would have left ages ago.”

Haas reportedly wanted performance clauses in his proposed contract extension which would mean he would become a free agent if Brisbane keep failing to make the finals. 

Sonny Bill Williams has been advising Haas on his playing future and he described the Kiwi dual international as an ideal mentor. 

“He is telling me to keep my head and stick to footy. That is what you do best and that is all that matters,” Haas added. 

“The problems I am going through now are nothing compared to what some people are going through.”

The 22-year-old’s future at Red Hill has been clouded since he parted ways with his manager, Chris Orr, who had kicked off talks for a new six-year deal with the Broncos last year.

“I love Brisbane and the city has taken me in. But at the end of the day I’m basing my decision on what’s best for my daughter. I’m trying to set up my daughter (for life) and God willing I will.”

In the past, Fittler has indicated he wouldn’t pick players embroiled in contract disputes but Haas has given him assurances that this stand-off would not affect the Blues camp.

“I told him (Fittler) that I wasn’t distracted and I told him I was focused on the job at hand,” he said.

“I think I got more boos than the Titans players … and I understood why it happened with the timing of it all.”

Bennett linked to Burgess switch

Wayne Bennett has been linked with a shock move to add Sam Burgess to the coaching staff at the Dolphins, with the incoming club’s coach seen in the box with the England legend at a bush footy game over the weekend.

Bennett was in the box as Burgess’ Orara Valley Axemen faced Macksville in Group 2 rugby league in Coffs Harbour on Sunday. Macksville coach Greg Inglis was not present, as he was otherwise engaged with NRL Indigenous Round.

Naturally, with Bennett in attendance to witness the nascent career of his former captain Burgess, links were made that put the former Souths star on the coaching team at the Dolphins.

Burgess has so far coached the Axemen to a 2-1 record, but fell to their first defeat of the year to Macksville despite having one of the greatest coaches of all time in their corner.

Harry Grant of the Maroons looks on during game one of the 2021 State of Origin series.

(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Grant in Maroons ‘quarantine’

Storm hooker Harry Grant will be kept away from the rest of the Queensland’s squad until Wednesday at the earliest as he gets over a bout of the flu. 

Grant was sidelined for Melbourne’s victory over Manly last Thursday night due to a groin injury and has also been laid low with illness. 

Maroons coach Billy Slater said Grant’s ailments prompted them to select him on the bench with in-form Dragons veteran Ben Hunt starting at hooker. 

“Harry is still getting over his groin injury, we feel that he is going to be okay to play but on top of that he has had the flu the last five days,” Slater said. 

“I think anyone in the game knows the flu has been going around and has knocked some around for up to a week.

“Harry is actually going to stay in Melbourne until Wednesday, then we are going to bring him up and hopefully he can hit the ground running on Thursday for us.”

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