Corey Parker's brutal call on Payne Haas development ahead of NRL grand final rematch

The Broncos are facing a tough situation heading to Penrith on Thursday.

Maroons great Corey Parker has claimed the Broncos will face the bigger loss if rampaging prop Payne Haas is out of the NRL grand final rematch this Thursday against the Panthers, despite the reigning champions potentially missing James Fisher-Harris. Haas left the match against the Rabbitohs on Thursday night with a knee injury and wasn't able to train on the weekend.

Kevin Walters admitted the prop had been named for the NRL grand final rematch this coming Thursday, but wasn't sure if he would play having trained with the rehabilitation group on Monday. "Payne has been named but we are not 100 per cent sure he will be playing yet," Walters said.

Corey Parker during commentary and Payne Haas celebrates.
Maroons great Corey Parker (pictured left) has claimed the Broncos face a tough task against the Panthers in the NRL grand final rematch if they missing Payne Haas (pictured right) on Thursday night. (Getty Images)

"He has still got a bit of a problem with his knee. He's had some scans and there wasn't too much there, but ... he is still not right to go at this stage." The Broncos will already face Penrith having lost Adam Reynolds to a knee sprain, which means NRL fans won't get to see another battle between the Brisbane No.7 and Nathan Cleary.

"Reyno won't be playing and won't be named. He is out," Walters admitted, having also revealed Jock Madden would take over the No.7 jersey. This comes as Penrith appear to be without Fisher-Harris after he left the Panthers' win over the Warriors in the 25th minute on Friday. Panthers coach Ivan Cleary will be resigned to losing the prop for the grand final rematch.

And Parker believes the Broncos are up against it when they travel to Penrith on Thursday having not entered 2024 in brilliant form. "It's going to be a tough ask because there is no Adam Reynolds and potentially no Payne Haas," Parker said. "I would expect, being round two and a long season ahead, that Payne probably won't play...but there is no reason why they can't go on and get the job done. They have strike right across the park.

"The reality of it is both teams...will need to be better." Parker believes Haas' absence will hurt the away side more as they will have to try and win the physical battle against a dominant forward pack. Parker put this down to the club losing members of their own forward pack at the end of last year, putting more pressure on Haas to perform.

Payne Haas passes the ball.
Payne Haas (pictured) is expected to miss the clash against the Panthers this Thursday. (Bradley Kanaris via Getty Images)

"I am going to say Payne Haas is a bigger loss over Fisher-Harris," Parker added. Haas went up the tunnel during the Rabbitohs game, but returned in the second half. His absence would be a huge blow as the Broncos look to get revenge over the Panthers after their 26-24 loss in last year's grand final. If the NSW and Kangaroos prop is unable to play, Walters said Xavier Willison would come into the 17 to face the Panthers.

Corey Jensen backs teammates amid Payne Haas drama

While Haas would be a monumental blow for the Broncos, starting prop Corey Jensen believes the team has enough power to challenge the Panthers even in his absence. Jensen is set to play his 100th NRL game against the Panthers and he has backed 21-year-old Willison to come in and perform if called upon.

"He has been great every time he's had to step up," Jensen said. "He is a big body and has a good motor. He is a young kid but he is really talented. I have no doubt that if he is called upon, if Payne is no good, that he will step up and do a job for the team."


Haas is the club's five-time player of the year, but Jensen and his teammates are not intimidated coming up against the three-straight premiership winners. "Definitely. We believe in everyone's ability to step up here. Payne is a huge part for the team but if everyone is doing their role we believe we can beat anyone."

If Willison plays, he will join a middle forward group that includes Martin Taupau, Kobe Hetherington and Fletcher Baker. "We have got quality middles whether they are starting or coming off the bench," Jensen said.