Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues stalwart Payne Haas said he was grateful that he and manager Brad Fittler could discuss the issue of his NRL contract and not allow him to derail his Origin preparations.
Haas is in the midst of a tussle between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans, which culminated last Friday at Suncorp Stadium when the former bounced back from a 24-4 halftime deficit to win 35 – 24.
“I’m grateful to be here and honored that Freddy chose me again with everything that happened last week,” Haas told nswrl.com.au.
“What I’m going through is nowhere near as bad as what others are going through right now – people who have lost their homes and businesses in the floods or fires we’ve seen recently.
“I look at all of this and my situation is much easier.”
But Haas admitted he was a little worried Fittler might not feel the same way.
“He texted me the night before I played the Titans asking if I was going to be distracted and I told him it would be fine,” Haas said.
“I told him ‘It’s just football’ and I know I have a job to do for both the Broncs and NSW.
“We talked about it. He knows that whatever the task at hand, I will be right to carry it out.
Fittler said he needed reassurance that Haas’ contract talks wouldn’t play an undesirable role in the first rower’s mindset during blue camp.
“Because it was last week – it was definitely a distraction and I think we saw it this weekend,” Fittler said of the Broncos’ lackluster start to the Titans game.
“I spoke with someone in Brisbane administration, I spoke to Payne, I spoke to his management. It was just one of those situations that quickly got out of hand.
“And after talking to all of those parties, I’m glad Payne isn’t distracted.”
As one of the Broncos’ most high-profile and effective work horses on the field, he faced backlash from Brisbane fans on Friday night – they booed him at first.
“Well, it would have been handy if we played (the first game) in Brisbane because he would be used to it,” said Fittler, when asked about his reaction to the jeers from the crowd.
“Look, I think he’s learned a lot without a doubt – he’s only 22 and his learning curve is steeper than most.
“He’s a smart kid and he’ll be ready.”
Haas told nswrl.com.au that packing his bags to come to Sydney and join the Blues side was a big relief.
“It was good to know that I was catching up with the boys again, but it was very difficult to leave behind my one-year-old daughter, Lalita,” he said.
“I learned so much from the Origin camp last year.
“I’m still only 22, which people tend to forget. I still have a lot of improvements in me and I still have a lot to learn about my game.
“I can’t wait for the first game this year. It’s such a wonderful arena to play.