‘Broncos would be mad to let him go’: SBW comes out in support of Haas

Sonny Bill Williams believes the Broncos should do everything in their power to retain Payne Haas, predicting the powerhouse prop will learn from his experiences after “his little misdemeanours have been blown out of proportion.”

Haas will slot back into the Brisbane No.10 jersey for Friday’s clash against Canterbury at Suncorp Stadium after serving a one-game suspension for an altercation with teammate Albert Kelly. That ban, and the $10,000 fine that accompanied it, is the result of a string of off-field dramas that also include copping a good behaviour bond over an altercation with police last year which resulted in a $50,000 fine and three-game suspension, as well as a four-game ban for failing to cooperate with an NRL integrity unit investigation in 2019.

The development comes at a time when the NSW enforcer is in dispute with his long-time management firm and rival clubs are circling should he become a free agent.

Like Williams, Haas has converted to Islam and the pair have struck up a friendship after meeting “a couple of times.” While some pundits have called for Brisbane to cut him loose, Williams believe parting with Haas would be a big mistake.

“He’s definitely one of my favourite players,” Williams told the Herald.

“All of his little misdemeanours have been blown out of proportion. He’s a young man; you can’t sit and tell me you haven’t made mistakes when you are 20 or 21, similar things to what he’s making.

Payne Haas has been taking advice from Sonny Bill Williams.Credit:NRL Photos, Getty

“There’s people within the club and around him that will tell him not to be as naive and think this or that won’t happen, but they are young men. You know what it’s like with the political side of rugby league – if someone doesn’t want him there or some people don’t like what he’s about or doing – they are going to blow it more out of proportion.

“For myself, he’s one of the best players in the NRL, one of the best front-rowers if not the best front-rower, you know what you get each week.

“If I was the Broncos, I would be trying to keep him there and not say goodbye to him.

“He is a great footy player, but what people need to understand is that he’s a young man.

“I’ve certainly been there so I know that you can be a good person and still make mistakes.”

“Like all young people, we’re going to make mistakes. We just need to be a little bit patient in that sense, have a bit of empathy and understand that life’s not all roses, no one is perfect.

“He will be right.”

The parallels between the early careers of Williams and Haas are obvious. Both were considered the best young forward in the game when they made their way into first grade, attracted attention for the occasional slip-up off the field and then found the Muslim faith. Asked if he saw himself in a young Haas, the cross-code star replied: “I see a bit of all of us in Payne.

“Collectively we have all made mistakes and we all love to sit back and point the finger and say ‘look at this’ and ‘look at that’,” Williams said.

“Because he plays so well and he’s one of the best front-rowers in the game, it’s a lot easier to point the finger at him.

“When you look at these pundits on TV that have never put a boot on in their life or never played in a professional sporting team in their life, these guys love using players like Payne Haas. They love blowing a story out of proportion because it’s something to talk about.

“We as people go ‘yes, yes’, but at the end of the day he is a young man finding his way in life, like all of us.

“I’ve certainly been there so I know that you can be a good person and still make mistakes.

“What’s the first thing we teach our kids each day when we are growing up? Do your best, if you stuff up just keep getting better, you’re a good person.

“In today’s age in professional sports when everyone has a phone, everyone likes to put their thoughts and feelings out there so everyone can hear and see, that’s where we are. Things get blown out of proportion with these little incidents.

“Obviously him being the same faith and walking a similar path, there are those similarities, but I’m not one to be overbearing. I’m always in the brothers’ corner. Him and a few other players I keep in contact with.”

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