Young Broncos gun poised to step up to big stage
WAYNE Bennett is set to take one of the biggest selection gambles of his career by blooding teenage Broncos powerhouse Payne Haas against the Rabbitohs on Thursday night.
The 18-year-old is in line to make his NRL debut at ANZ Stadium as Bennett searches for a way to spark Brisbane's teetering season.
Haas is on standby for prop Matt Lodge (ribs), but could also be picked on the bench in place of Sam Tagataese.
Haas is one of the NRL's brightest young prospects, a 117kg forward who has been likened to Cowboys beast Jason Taumalolo and dual-code superstar Sonny Bill Williams.
Bennett has been reluctant to rush Haas into the NRL, knowing he could thwart his development by blooding him too soon.
But the 10th-placed Broncos are in need of an energy boost and Bennett said Haas was ready for the challenge.
"He is close to it but he still hasn't got on the field yet," he said after Wednesday's training session.
"We're eight weeks into the competition and he's had that at state league level.
"He is a different boy to what he was when he started there.
"We've got to see if he gets an opportunity. I'll talk about him after, and when, he plays."
The Broncos are in rare territory after seven rounds with a 3-4 record that sees them well outside the all important top four.
Test lock Josh McGuire will replace injured hooker Andrew McCullough and Bennett admitted he was not thrilled about Brisbane's position nearly a third of the way through the season.
"I'm not feeling great, but at least we are playing decent football," he said.
"If we kept playing like the week we played the Titans I'd be in a coma by now.
"We haven't done that. We've picked our act up since then.
"We've played a close game in Newcastle, Auckland, last week (Storm)…we're heading in the right direction.
"Points are important, but they're not that important at the moment.
"What's important is we start to get our game back together and start to play the quality of football we're capable of playing. The rest will look after itself."
Bennett said he would make a final decision on the make-up of his team on Thursday.