Payne Haas breaks his silence
Broncos star Payne Haas has broken his silence on his latest off-field scandal, admitting he must fix his image or risk losing millions and destroying his NRL career.
Haas' reputation has taken a battering in recent days following revelations of his expletive-laden attack on police during a verbal clash with authorities that led to him being locked up by Tweed Heads officers on the night of January 16.
The NSW Origin prop pleaded guilty in Tweed Heads Local Court on Thursday to two counts of intimidating police.
While no conviction was recorded, Haas was slapped with a two-year good behaviour order.
Magistrate Geoff Dunlevy, while extremely concerned with Haas' behaviour, acknowledged his actions in apologising to police as the Australian Test forward awaits his fate with the NRL integrity unit this week.
At the tender age of 21, Haas' NRL career is at the crossroads. The Broncos are willing to support him, mindful another off-field transgression will almost certainly see Haas' multimillion-dollar contract torn up.
Today, Haas opens up on the Tweed Heads incident and the most painful six months of his life following the tragic death of his disabled brother Chace in August.
As he awaits punishment from the NRL and the Broncos, Haas concedes he must change his ways and work to repair his tainted public image.
"I am extremely embarrassed by what's happened," Haas told The Sunday Mail.
"I know I have let down myself, my family, my teammates and the Broncos and their fans.
"My actions are mine to own. I take full responsibility for what's happened, regardless of me being under the influence of alcohol on the night.
"All I can do is apologise for my actions. It was out of character and I will be working hard on and off the field to repair people's opinions of me."
Haas makes it clear he does not have a problem with alcohol, but the sudden death of his brother, aged 22, last August sent the 117kg man mountain into a downward spiral.
On the night of his clash with police, Haas had drunk heavily following a Broncos squad training session at Burleigh.
After leaving the Broncos get-together, Haas met up with his pregnant partner Leilani Mohenoa. Noticing he was heavily intoxicated and distressed, she suggested a walk and the pair headed to the Jack Evans Boat Harbour where Haas broke down about the loss of his brother.
Haas was in his mother's womb when a car accident saw Chace, strapped into a baby seat at five months old, sustain spinal damage. He was rendered a quadriplegic and spent the next 19 years of his life in a wheelchair. Throughout their childhood, Payne adopted the role of Chace's protector.
The NRL's strict COVID guidelines imposed last season made it difficult for Haas to see his family and mourn Chace's death.
Haas admits he was highly emotional and on edge, his alcoholic binge fuelling his anguish over Chace's death, when Tweed Heads police approached him and asked to see his ID. He says he was so disgusted at his actions he twice apologised to officers, returning to Tweed Heads station three days later to again express his remorse.
"I agree what I said to the police was wrong," Haas says.
"It is not a proper representation of who I am, nor how I want the world to see me.
"It is my wrongdoing. I stuffed up. I need to earn the respect back through more than just these words but through my actions moving forward. I have little brothers and sisters who need me to set a better example.
"I was not in a good head space at all in that moment (when police approached him). I had been drinking. I allowed myself to drink too much which affected my actions.
"It's been tough losing Chace. I haven't spoken much about it. We were really tight. He died so suddenly and to be honest I haven't handled this whole tragedy well.
"Because of the COVID restrictions, I had limited time to process Chace's death with my family. It's been the hardest thing I ever have faced.
"So while I am really embarrassed and disappointed at the way I treated the police, I hope people can see there were other factors behind what happened.
"Thankfully I've had my family and my partner Leilani supporting me and helping me cope during this time.
"Without them I am not sure I would have gotten through it."
Haas is rated Brisbane's best front-row prospect in 20 years. Such is his talent, the hulking Haas made his State of Origin debut for the Blues in 2019 after just 10 first-grade games for the Broncos.
Haas will become a father in the coming months and accepts it is time he grew up ahead of the impending birth of his first child.
"This is a year where I want to focus on being the best person I can be, not just a football player," he said.
"I can't wait to be a dad and I certainly want to be the best role model I can be. I am also a bit nervous at being a parent as it comes with big responsibilities.
"I want to be a good partner to Leilani and a great dad to my newborn baby.
"I honestly believe what happened was out of character. I can't wait to play alongside my Broncos teammates this season, but I need to win back the trust and respect of rugby league fans and sponsors of the club.
"I know it is a privilege to play in the NRL, so I need to start acting like it and appreciate it more."
Originally published as Broncos star Payne Haas breaks his silence