Brisbane Broncos prop, Payne Haas, is set to miss the upcoming Bulldogs clash due to an ankle injury, further weakening the team’s forward pack. Haas had already been ruled out of the State of Origin dead rubber due to the injury, and it has now been confirmed that he is dealing with tendon inflammation. While he is expected to return in round 21 against South Sydney, his absence adds to the Broncos‘ depleted unit.
Although the Broncos will welcome back veteran edge forward Kurt Capewell from a quad tendon concern, they are still without Thomas Flegler and Jordan Riki, both recovering from foot injuries. Broncos head of performance, Dave Ballard, confirmed Haas’ absence and mentioned that Flegler could potentially return for the Rabbitohs game.
Ballard said, “Payne will rehab the injury over the next fortnight and we expect him to return for the round 21 game against South Sydney. Tom Flegler has had some positive news from scans and reviews of the Lisfranc injury in his foot, and he could return as early as the Rabbitohs game depending on how his running program tracks along in coming weeks. Jordan Riki will continue his rehab from a foot injury, with the intention of him returning for the final rounds of the regular reason.”
In an effort to solidify their pack for the future, the Broncos have extended the contract of interchange prop Martin Taupau for one year starting in 2024. This allows the 33-year-old to potentially finish his career with the club. Flegler’s departure at the end of the 2023 season opens up a gap in the Broncos‘ lineup, but the addition of Sydney Rooster Fletcher Baker and the retention of Taupau will help compensate for the loss.
With Taupau’s experience, he will serve as a mentor to young forwards in the Broncos‘ ranks, including 18-year-old Benjamin Te Kura. Te Kura, who will be representing Queensland in the Under-19s State of Origin clash, has been a regular player for Souths Logan in the Queensland Cup, playing under the coaching of Karmichael Hunt, a former Broncos premiership-winner. The talented youngster, standing at over two meters tall, has made an impressive impact, scoring in each of his first four appearances and recording strong statistics in recent weeks.
Brisbane coach Kevin Walters expressed his belief that Taupau’s presence will be crucial in developing the next generation of forwards for the club. He highlighted Taupau’s experience and leadership, stating, “He has a lot of experience and is a great team man who is helping to bring through the next generation of forwards as well as playing some really good footy himself.”