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Payne Haas has left NRL fans in a state of shock after reports he's asked the Brisbane Broncos for an immediate release from his contract.
With rival clubs circling, the NSW and Australian representative forward had been agitating for an upgrade and extension on his current deal that runs until 2024.
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Brisbane have refused to comment, but it's understood the club rejected Haas's management's latest offer and then denied the subsequent request for a release.
It's unclear if Haas will still suit up against Gold Coast on Friday night, despite training with the Broncos squad on Thursday.
It comes as the Broncos' three-time best and fairest winner engages in a courtroom battle with former manager Chris Orr, who is entitled to a commission until the current deal he struck expires.
Since changing managers he has been angling for an upgrade, of the belief he is being underpaid on his current deal.
The Broncos had reportedly tabled a $6 million contract, that would have been the richest in NRL history for a prop forward, only for the 22-year-old to knock it back.
The Sydney Roosters have been heavily linked as an interested party, while the NRL's new Dolphins franchise is on the hunt for a marquee man and younger brother Klese signed a two-year, full-time deal at the Titans earlier on Thursday.
Haas is regarded by many experts as the premier middle forward in the NRL, with the big prop leading the way for forwards in the competition, with the highest average run metres (181) per game in 2022.
Unsurprisingly, news that Haas is seeking a release from the Broncos has sent fans into a frenzy on social media.
Payne Haas has asked for an immediate release from the Broncos over a pay dispute. Four NRL clubs have expressed interest in signing the Broncos star immediately.
— Pete Badel (@badel_cmail) May 26, 2022
I get that everyone wants more money, but throwing your toys out of the cot and "demanding a release" because your club won't pay you over $1m is a bit naive, even for someone as good as Payne Haas. It's in the media now because his manager wants it to be to use as leverage. #NRL
— Childish Dan-Bino (@Bamboujikin) May 26, 2022
So the @brisbanebroncos have issued an official “no comment” on protracted negotiations between them, Payne Haas & his manager Tyran Smith. It’s my understanding that Haas told Kevin Walters after training today “he wanted out.”Bulldogs, Roosters, Dolphins the main suitors 🏉 💰
— Zane Bojack (@zanofc) May 26, 2022
I will personally be Payne Haas's white sneakers bodyguard in Northies each night in Cronulla if he wishes to come to the Shire and have no more heathens step on his Limited Editions
— BEERBOY-182 🍥 (@beerboy182) May 26, 2022
Payne Haas wanting out of the Broncos just as they've turned things around.
I get it's a contract/money thing, but just seems bizarre timing.
I imagine the conjecture is the last thing Freddy would want around NSW camp. #NRL
— Lachlan McKirdy (@LMcKirdy7) May 26, 2022
Man I’m so ragey about Pyne haas requesting a release. Do I want players that do this to my club around? No. Do I want the Payne haas to love the club and be happy we are on the up and have already made him a very rich young man? Yes! pic.twitter.com/9xxfZRz2fd
— Leon-Bot- (@GeorgeC84804674) May 26, 2022
Rumour mill in overdrive with reports #Broncos star Payne Haas has requested an immediate release from Brisbane.
The news comes just hours after the GC Titans announced the signing of Payne's brother Kleese Haas on a two-year deal from next season... #NRL
— Shanée Dobeson (@SDobeson) May 26, 2022
Wonder when Payne Haas debuts for the Roosters?
— Murray Conallin (@MConallin) May 26, 2022
So Payne Haas is having dramas with his old agent and wants more coin from the Broncos despite the massive wage he's already receiving. Club has refused so he wants to take his ball and go home? If I'm Brisbane, I'm telling him to suck it up and be a pro #NRL
— Curtis Woodward (@woodward_curtis) May 26, 2022
Payne Haas in the headlines throughout 2022
Haas has been firmly in the spotlight in 2022, following the release of video footage showing him and teammate Albert Kelly getting involved in a heated scuffle at a Sydney hotel earlier in the season.
Both men were slapped with suspensions and fines for the incident, which raised questions about the culture at the Brisbane club.
The prop has also been the subject of three separate NRL integrity unit investigations during his time at the Broncos.
The 22-year-old was last year accused of intimidating a female police officer and in 2019 was punished for failing to cooperate with an NRL investigation.
It's understood Haas' management team was seeking a deal worth around $1 million per season for the middle forward, with the club seemingly unwilling to match that staggering figure.
Speaking about what effect Haas' potential exit would have on the Broncos earlier in the season, NRL great Michael Ennis said it would be a "catastrophic" blow to the club.
“It will be such a blow for Brisbane if he doesn’t remain at the club long-term," Ennis said in April.
“I know he has got two years to go but there is a lot of talk at the moment about where Payne’s future will be.
“It will be a catastrophic blow for them if they lose Payne. He’s so good.”
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