Sunday , November 17 2019
Home / australia / Rookie of the Year, Payne Haas, Briton Nikora

Rookie of the Year, Payne Haas, Briton Nikora



Earlier this year Paul Gallen described Payne Haas as "the total package" and backed him to picked in the NSW side when he's only played 10 NRL matches for the Broncos.

Gallen is still a huge fan of the giant teen sensation and expects the red hot favorite to sweep the NRL's Rookie of the Year awards to do just that.

However, Gallen has gone into battle on a weekly basis with a couple of other impressive rookies this season in Briton Nikora and Bronson Xerri.

2019 Season Review: Cronulla Sharks

He's got a huge rap on both of them and is so impressed by the odds Nikora has overcome just to play one NRL game that he's lobbying for the gun 21-year-old back-rower to pinch some silverware off the 19-year-old who is widely touted to be the greatest forward of generation next.

Haas, Nikora and Xerri have been shortlisted alongside Eels sensation Maika Sivo, Manly's goalkicking winger Reuben Garrick and Storm livewire Ryan Papenhuyzen for the RLPA's peer-voted Rookie of the Year award.

While Gallen certainly isn't backing against Haas, he told Wide World of Sports there's a compelling case for Nikora to edge him.

"I actually think out of all them blokes I think Brit deserves to win it; he made his debut this year, played most games and played for his country," Gallen said.

"I think Payne Haas will win it, to be honest I think he'll win it. It'll be hard to split them two, I'm a big fan of Payne Haas, he'll be the next big thing for a long time.

"He's unbelievable, the minutes he plays at his age and the devastation he can cause, I'm a huge fan, a huge huge fan of his.

"But for Brit to come up in his first season, knowing his background, and Payne Haas is probably another one who's always been the best player as a kid, Brit's had to work his backside off to get there, I just think he's a better story, he's had to do it in a tougher way, to play for his country (New Zealand) in his first year I'd pick him but I think it'll be Haas. "

Haas too may yet be picked to play for his country when Mal Meninga's Kangaroos squad to play New Zealand and Tonga is selected after next Sunday's grand final.

Before turning 20 Haas has already established himself as the most important player in a powerful Broncos pack, playing 21 of their 25 games this season, and made his Origin debut.

It's a body of work that is just about impossible to ignore but the romantic in Gallen sees things differently given Nikora couldn't get a game in Cronulla's under 20s just two years ago.

"I remember John Morris saw him trial (when he was the 20s coach) and liked him in the trial game he just couldn't get him in the team," Gallen said.

"And literally didn't play a game all year, just didn't play. When you're 19 years old and can't get a run in 20s it seems a lifetime away from playing first grade and playing for your country, which he's done both this year.

"That just shows how much determination and resilience he's got to keep showing up and having the right attitude at training and eventually breaking through, he's taken the opportunity with both hands."

Gallen pays tribute to Nikora's work ethic for allowing him to make such big strides at such a young age, praising him for overcoming his relative lack of ability.

"I saw him at the back end of last year and he had bumps and bruises everywhere," Gallen recalls.

"I saw how hard he worked and the physio sessions he was having and he was always in the recovery room doing what he needed to do to get his body right for the next game and it was pretty impressive for a bloke in his first season. "

While the now retired Cronulla skipper got a huge thrill from sharing his final season on the field with Nikora, he often found himself awe struck by Xerri, whose natural talent saw him touted as a future Kangaroos star before he's played 10 games.

Gallen cites Xerri's blistering try in Cronulla's Round 6 clash with the Panthers in which he burns past Dallin Watene Zelezniak with very little room to move down the sideline as an example of the kind of freakish feat he and only he is capable of.

To be a rookie and already possess weapons that are unmatched in the NRL is a real eye opener and Gallen says he's the real deal.

"I honestly remember thinking in the game there was no one else who could do that on a consistent level," Gallen told Wide World of Sports about that try against the Panthers.

"It's impossible to do it week in week out but you play against different defenders, some are better than others and some teams are better than others.

"If he can produce things like that more often than not it will only be a matter of time before he plays representative football. I don't want to put a time frame on it, NSW have got a pretty good side at the moment with some pretty good outside backs, we saw Latrell Mitchell get dropped this year so they've got some pretty good outside backs.

"Every young kid who comes into first grade these days that shows some potential is touted as an Origin player but it doesn't always work out that way.

"I think if he can have some of them games more often than not it's only a matter of time before he gets his shot."


Source link