Payne Haas a night to remember
BRONCOS young gun Payne Haas has confirmed his status as the NRL's hottest forward property after landing a stunning one-two medal punch at the Dally M Awards.
Haas became the first player since Manly's Steve Menzies 25 years ago to win the rookie-of-the-year award and qualify for the Dally M team of the year in the same season on a memorable night for the Broncos prop.
It was another gala night for the NRL at Sydney's Moore Park, with Roosters fullback James Tedesco edging out Cameron Smith to clinch the Dally M award and officially be crowned the code's No.1 player.
But amid the hoopla over Tedesco's masterful ascension to the NRL's top-dog throne, the remarkable feats of Haas could not be ignored.
For the second consecutive season, the Broncos unearthed the NRL's most exciting talent with Haas following in the footsteps of Brisbane teammate Jamayne Isaako, who was last year's standout Dally M rookie.
To cap a dream campaign, the 19-year-old Haas was also named prop of the year, beating rival candidates David Klemmer, Paul Vaughan and Canberra's in-form grand-final enforcer Josh Papalii.
Payne Haas said he still could go to another level with his game.
"If you look at the names who have won it before me, it's a pretty prestigious award," Haas said. "I feel really privileged and really blessed to be recognised like this.
"I wouldn't be playing footy if I didn't think I had another gear. I've got heaps of steps to go. I've got some wrongs I have to correct.
"The day I stop improving will probably be the day I stop playing rugby league."
The 19-year-old also received the Prop of the Year Award last night, ahead of the likes of Canberra Raiders star Josh Papalii.
Haas said he was surprised to win both coveted awards.
"I didn't see the Prop of the Year Award coming," he said.
"I thought Josh Papalii had a massive season.
"I'm just really honoured."
Sea Eagles tryscoring machine Menzies was the last player to achieve the rookie-team quinella back in 1994.
The 2019 season was a magical year for rookies, with Haas nominated alongside Sharks sensation Bronson Xerri, Eels Fijian flyer Maika Sivo, Storm speedster Ryan Papenhuyzen and Cronulla forward Briton Nikora.
Any one of those quintet had genuine claims to the gong, but few will question the coronation of Haas after a 2019 campaign that stamped him as one of the best props of the past 20 years.
Haas, who turns 20 in December, has played 21 games and making his NSW State of Origin debut in the series opener in June after just 10 NRL career matches.
Haas also rewrote the record books this year, becoming the first forward under 21 to run for more than 3000m in a single season since the inception of the NRL in 1998.
His most memorable play of the season came against Penrith in round 22.
With Brisbane clinging to an 18-12 lead inside the final seven minutes, the gigantic Haas crashed through the Panthers and stormed past the fullback to seal victory with a 43-metre solo special.
The Broncos bookend, a towering figure at 194cm, finished the 2019 season with a whopping 3888 metres at an average of 185m per game.
No other forward in the game matched his output. Not even seasoned representative hulks, such as Martin Taupau (3720m), Klemmer (3560m), Jason Taumalolo (3538m), Jesse Bromwich (3406m) and Nelson Asofa-Solomona (3294m), tore through the rucks like Haas.
Haas's achievements are even more impressive given that he missed the opening month of the premiership after serving a club-imposed four-week suspension for failing to fully comply with an NRL integrity unit investigation into an off-field matter.