Teen already staking claim as NRL’s top prop
The great shame going into Friday night's grudge match between South Sydney and Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium is that Sam Burgess is unlikely to take the field and go one-on-one with young giant Payne Haas.
While the 30-year-old English enforcer has been justifiably recognised as one of the best and most feared forwards for many years, Haas is fast emerging as the competition's new heavyweight contender and it will be only a matter of time before he takes the belt.
Still eligible for the Dally M rookie of the year given the 19-year-old only played three NRL games last year, Haas is averaging over 60 minutes this year which is outstanding for a prop and he is second among all forwards for run metres, averaging 174m, with Jason Taumalolo leading the way on 191m.
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But it was Haas' astonishing try in last round's win over Penrith that will be talked about for years to come given it would have to be among the best scored by a rugby league front-rower and certainly the best in recent memory.
It's fair to say Haas is on track for a superstar career but the fact he is also in the argument as the best prop in the game while still a teenager just highlights what an amazing talent he really is.
While Canberra's Josh Papalii probably gets my pick for his consistency at club and Origin level this year, Haas is holding his own up against the likes of Papalii, David Klemmer, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Martin Taupau, and Jesse Bromwich.
The potentially season-ending knee injury to Tom Burgess on top of Sam's ongoing quad and shoulder issues and George Burgess' suspension makes it increasingly hard to see the Rabbitohs finishing top four.