Brisbane need to do what is ever necessary to ensure they have the salary cap space to keep Payne Haas at the club long term in the wake of his dramatic request for an immediate release.
If that means shedding players and replacing them with rookies or journeymen, then they should do it.
The Broncos are on a mission to rebuild their club and break their premiership drought which stretches all the way back to 2006.
They will not be able to achieve that goal without Haas, whether that’s this season, next year or when his contract runs out at the end of 2024.
Just like Glenn Lazarus was the foundation of their ascension to their premiership-winning glory days of the 1990s, Haas is the young forward spearhead who can fill a similar role three decades later.
It seems the Broncos and the entire rugby league landscape has been rocked by news breaking about Haas wanting out, first reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.
Understandably, Broncos CEO Dave Donaghy rejected the request and after the club’s three-time player of the year trained with the squad on Thursday morning, he will take his place in the front row for Friday’s Suncorp Stadium derby duel with the Gold Coast.
Haas took to Instagram, posting a message to say “all that matters is we got a game tomorrow night and all my focus is on that. All I can control is giving my all tomorrow night for my teammates and you guys. Much love everyone always”.
The Broncos put out a statement on Thursday afternoon to say they “will not be entertaining a release. The club remains in ongoing discussions with Payne’s management about what the next phase looks like for him at the Broncos. That includes ongoing dialogue about an extension to his current contract.”
Conspiracy theorists are already reaching for their tin-foil hats after the Titans announced earlier in the day that they had signed his 19-year-old brother Klese on a full-time deal next season until the end of 2024 after impressing their coaching staff while playing for Tweed in the QRL’s Hastings Deering Colts competition.
There has also been speculation bubbling away in recent months about the 22-year-old NSW and Australian representative, widely considered the best front-rower in the NRL, being a signings target for the Sydney Roosters.
They need to regenerate their forward pack with Siosiua Taukeiaho off to the Super League next year and front-row partner Jared Waerea-Hargreaves also in the twilight of his career.
However, Roosters chairman Nick Politis last month responded to talk that they were trying to lure Haas to Sydney by saying they did not have the salary cap space for a player who is likely to command $1 million per season on his next contract.
There should be 17 clubs getting out their spreadsheets, abacuses, stashes of poker machine money, trying to work out whether they could put a multimillion-dollar offer on the table for Haas.
The Dolphins are desperate for a marquee signing for their foundation season next year and Haas would certainly fit that bill.
They have plenty of money left in their salary cap for a star signing and a name like Haas would help the new club recruit other top-line talent, which has been an ongoing issue for the Redcliffe outfit in recent months.
It is believed his current deal is around the $750,000-$850,000 ballpark for the next two seasons.
The Broncos offered him an upgraded extension until the end of 2027 late last year but Haas, who is now managed by former Kiwi international Tyran Smith, rejected the deal.
Haas changed management last year and has been agitating for an upgraded contract with the Broncos, believing he is being underpaid on his current deal which runs until the end of 2024.
He had been represented by Chris Orr but has been engaged in a legal battle with him in a bid to stop his former manager receiving commission payments from the six-year deal he signed in 2018.
The deal was signed the day before the NRL’s revamped player agent scheme was brought in, which allows players to terminate an agreement with an agent after two years as long as they give a three-month notice period.
Haas, who has played 70 matches for Brisbane since his debut as an 18-year-old in 2018, is a certain selection to play his eighth Origin for the NSW team when it is announced on Sunday night for the series opener against Queensland at Accor Stadium on June 8.
Put simply, there is no other young talent in the NRL who comes close to his ability to churn through metres in the middle of the ruck, play big minutes and get through a mountain of defensive work.
The Broncos cannot afford for yet another rising star to come through their ranks and then head off elsewhere.
In recent years they’ve seen David Fifita switch to the Titans, Reece Walsh join the Warriors, Xavier Coates head to Melbourne and Tom Dearden travel north to the Cowboys while teenage halfback prodigy Sam Walker slipped through their clutches to join the Roosters.
Fifita’s gilt-edged deal with the Gold Coast is reportedly worth $3.5 million over three seasons. The Broncos have to at least get near that kind of money for Haas. Yes, the Titans paid overs to pry him away from Brisbane but the market value for any player is whatever the highest bidder will spend.
Brisbane have a luxury item on their books in the form of Haas. If you want a Ferrari in your garage, you have to pony up. Having a Maserati won’t cost you quite as much but it’s just not the same.
The club has built some equity with Haas after standing by him after a couple of off-field incidents led to sanctions from the NRL Integrity Unit and he appears to have a strong relationship with coach Kevin Walters.
After collecting their first wooden spoon in 2020, they improved slightly to 14th after Walters took over last season but have stormed up the ladder this year to be fifth with a 7-4 record following the acquisition of key veterans Adam Reynolds and Kurt Capewell.
To keep their trajectory on an upward level this year and into the future, they cannot afford to lose a generational talent like Haas.