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Jailed mum behind Haas World Cup withdrawal, motto behind Cowboys success

Brisbane prop Payne Haas has confirmed he will sit out the Rugby League World Cup for personal reasons after winning the Broncos’ Player of the Year award for a fourth consecutive season.

The 22-year-old is set to have shoulder surgery and was heartbroken when his mother Uiatu ‘Joan’ Taufua was sentenced to jail until October 1 for assaulting security staff at the Star Casino.

Haas’s withdrawal is a big blow for the Australian side after State of Origin props Junior Paulo and Josh Papali’I confirmed their allegiance to Samoa.

Haas, who has Samoan heritage, said he’d had no intention of playing for any other country than Australia and had told coach Mal Meninga of his allegiance.

“I was tossing and turning over it for a couple of weeks,” said Haas of his “pretty hard” decision.

“I just thought that at this time, especially with my body and with all the stuff going on in my family, I needed to be home as the older sibling.

“I need to be there for my little brothers and give them a bit of guidance. I felt that was more important than going over to England and playing the World Cup.

“Like anyone, if it was their own mother (in jail) you would be pretty shattered. I am pretty close with my mum. It has been tough.

“I haven’t got to speak to her the last couple of weeks. All I know is that my dad has been talking to her and she is in pretty high spirits at the moment. Hopefully I see her soon.”

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 11: Payne Haas of the Broncos is seen coming from the field with a sore shoulder during the round 14 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Canberra Raiders at Suncorp Stadium, on June 11, 2022, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Payne Haas. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Haas became just the second player in Broncos history to win the Paul Morgan Medal for a fourth time.

“I know how special it is. It is a real honour,” said Haas

“I would trade all these Paul Morgans for a premiership. I just want to win a premiership.”

Only four-time Broncos premiership-winning halfback Allan Langer has won the award on more occasions (1988 and 1993-1996).

It capped a tumultuous year for Haas who despite being on contract until the end of 2024 sought a release from the club in May, which was subsequently denied by the Broncos.

The request was essentially a pay dispute over the NSW forward’s worth.

Despite not being granted his request, Haas knuckled down to continue the consistency that has highlighted his career at the Broncos.

“I never said I wanted out of the club,” said Haas.

“I love this club and I’ve always told you (the media) especially that I love Brisbane and I love the people here.

“I want to do good at this club. I’ve been here through the rough times and can see the good times coming.

“We are starting talks again and they are going pretty good.”

Win the game early, score the points late.

Win the game early, score the points late

That is the motto North Queensland Cowboys have founded their NRL success on this year and is the ethos key players believe can take them all the way to a premiership.

The Cowboys are surging with belief ahead of hosting Parramatta in the grand-final qualifier in Townsville on Friday night.

“We are never beaten,” said prop Reuben Cotter.

“That motto of ‘win the game early, score the points late’ is a massive theme of ours and something we base our game on every week. It seems to work for us.”

The Cowboys have lived their creed this year. It is far more than just empty words. In the away round-15 clash with Manly they trailed by 14 points with eight minutes to go and won 28-26.

In the qualifying final against the Sharks, again away, they trailed by eight with eight minutes to go before co-captain Jason Taumalolo scored in the 80th minute. Then centre Valentine Holmes kicked a winning two-point field goal in golden point to secure a 32-30 victory.

DARWIN, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 30: Coen Hess of the Cowboys looks to pass as he is tackled during the round eight NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the North Queensland Cowboys at TIO Stadium, on April 30, 2022, in Darwin, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

“It is a good little saying that we found along the way about our identity,” said Cowboys second-rower .

“As the season unfolded we realised what sort of team we are and that we back ourselves as a really conditioned and fit side.

“I think that comes from training in the heat up here. It is a big benefit to us. 

“We’ve front-loaded our energy. In the first 40 or 50 minutes it means you are hurting and feeling the pain. The scoreboard may be level, or we may just be behind, but we stay confident and back our conditioning to come home with it. That is the identity of the Cowboys in 2022.”

Cowboys prop Coen Hess described the motto as “the foundation of our success.

“Against Manly and then against the Sharks we came home with a wet sail,” said Hess.

“The whole year we have prided ourselves on our fitness. When we pay more attention to those effort areas and not holding anything back and not leaving any gas in the tank early in games, we seem to come over the top of teams late.”

Hess said the Eels pack, led by props Junior Paul and Reagan Campbell-Gillard, would test the motto to its core.

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“We are going to have to start fast with our line speed and contact on their big boys,” Hess said.

Cotter said his role would be simple.

“For me it is about winning all the small moments. Running hard, tackling hard, pressuring the kicker … all the little moments that add up and get you the reward at the end,” he said.

“We have some great players who can do some extraordinary things when we need them.”

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