Brisbane and NSW star Payne Haas has chosen to extend his time with the Broncos, agreeing to a deal worth $3.5m over three seasons
The extension appeared in Newscorp papers within an hour of the news that Bulldogs prop Tevita Pangai jnr is to retire from rugby league at the age of 27 to pursue a professional boxing career, a move thought to have been prompted at least in part by pressure from his club who wanted to free up cap space to sign Haas.
It comes, too, within 24 hours of news that the Western Force were looking to sign Haas with the hope that he could represent both them and the Wallabies in the future.
Now, it is settled that Haas will remain in Queensland – and in rugby league – for the foreseeable future. An official announcement is due within a day from the Broncos club.
His name had been one of the most mentioned in relation to Wallabies coach Eddie Jones’ planned poaching raids on rugby league, especially given his position as one of the game’s leading big men.
Since Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii agreed to swap codes, all other attempts have failed with Tolu Koula extending with Manly and Souths captain Cameron Murray showing no interest in a switch.
Brisbane had been sweating on their pack leader’s future, especially as he would have been free to speak to other clubs from November 1 under NRL rules.
His management had previously suggested that he would wait until that time to test the market, but with $1.2m per year on the table now – with ratchet clauses if the salary cap goes up again – he has opted to remain at Red Hill.
Tongan international Pangai, who broke into the NSW State of Origin team earlier this season but was punted after one match, is contracted until the end of next year but according to a NewsCorp report, will call it quits after Canterbury’s season ends in Round 27.
Pangai made his debut for Brisbane in 2016 and played 96 matches at the club before a late-season switch to Penrith for a brief stint in 2021 where he made six appearances before an injury robbed him of the chance of featuring in their Grand Final side.
He kicked off his tenure at Canterbury at the start of last season but has struggled to be a consistent performer in a team full of expensive recruits which has failed to find success.
Pangai has played 34 matches for the Bulldogs and apart from his lone Origin appearance, he has represented Tonga in six Tests.
The Dogs are running 15th heading into the final three rounds of the season.
They have purchased Panthers duo Stephen Crichton and Jaeman Salmon, as well as Souths utility Blake Taaffe for next season.
Without Haas in the market, they will have $800,000 to spend on other talent who may come available. Luke Thompson, one of their top earners in the pack, is also off contract this year, leaving a gaping hole in their middle.
The likes of Moeaki Fotuaika, Braden Hamlin-Uele, Toby Rudolf and the Molo brothers are off in 2024, but it would be very difficult for the Dogs to sign anyone before that, and they would likely have to pay overs to get anyone through the door.