Fasting keeps hungry Haas focused on NRL restart

Brisbane wonderkid Payne Haas says his commitment to observing Ramadan will not impact his football and he can continue his incredible form when the NRL season reboots in a fortnight.

Haas has been fasting during daylight hours for the past three weeks as part of the Muslim month of Ramadan.

With the NRL season suspended due to COVID-19, Haas has not been required to abstain from food or drink during games, but he has been training hard to stay in shape ahead of the May 28 relaunch.

At 119kg and with an incredible aerobic capacity, Haas puts his body through tremendous strain to produce mind-boggling statistics on the footy field.

 

Training on his own hasn’t affected Haas’s physique. Photo: Annette Dew
Training on his own hasn’t affected Haas’s physique. Photo: Annette Dew

The 20-year-old prop converted to Islam just over a year ago and is observing Ramadan for the second time after committing during his debut State of Origin series last year.

The month-long commitment ends on May 23 and Haas said it had not impacted his ability to train and remain fit.

"I'm in Ramadan at the moment and it's going pretty well, there is no drinking or food (during the day)," Haas said.

"It's been pretty much the same as last year but it's been a little bit easier as I've been through it already and know what to expect.

"All I've got to do is train hard and show it on the field. As long as I do the right things at training, I will be fine when it comes to the games."

Haas moved out of the Indooroopilly apartment he shares with Broncos teammates David Fifita and Tesi Niu when the NRL season was suspended in late March to live in his family home on the Gold Coast.

He stayed fit on the hinterland property by running up its hills and steep driveway and worked out in his father Gregor's home gym.

Family support has kept Haas on track during lockdown. Photo: AAP Image/Darren England
Family support has kept Haas on track during lockdown. Photo: AAP Image/Darren England

"We've got a pretty big property and dad made us run every day," Haas said.

"We've got a few hills there. Our driveway is steep and up a big hill, so I ran up it every day.

"I was able to stay fit. I feel like my body shape has become better since we went into isolation."

Ramadan started on April 23 this year, a month after the NRL season was suspended.

Haas gets out of bed before sunrise every day to eat a big breakfast cooked by his mother, Joan Taufua, drives an hour to Red Hill for training and doesn't eat or drink water again until the sun has set.

"I'm at home at the moment during Ramadan and my mum cooks every morning which I am grateful for," Haas said.

"Mum cooks a pretty big feed in the morning. She looks after me. I'm very lucky to have her.

"Breakfast changes every morning but it's mostly eggs, spinach and muesli. Big plates and servings of that.

"It's not really (about mental toughness), I know I've got that. It's more about getting closer to what I believe in."

The 20-year-old has used his time for personal reflection. Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
The 20-year-old has used his time for personal reflection. Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Haas backed up his 2019 breakout season by starting the year with a bang and was equal third in the Dally M Medal votes (three) after two outstanding games.

While the season suspension halted his and the Broncos' winning form, Haas used the six-week break to delve deeper into his religion.

"It was a good time for reflection," he said.

"I was reflecting on myself and training. That's what I mostly did for six weeks. I had a look at what I was doing right or wrong in my life. A lot of people were doing that.

"I cleaned up some things in my life that I thought I needed to.

"Routine is key in your life. Not just in footy but everyday life. You need routine and if you can maintain that, you will be sweet."

 

Brisbane can be optimistic with these two back. Photo: AAP Image/Darren England
Brisbane can be optimistic with these two back. Photo: AAP Image/Darren England

When the season gets back underway, the Broncos will be boosted by the return of Haas' front-row sparring partner Matt Lodge from a knee injury.

The Broncos were impressive in their 2-0 start to the season, beating the Cowboys and Rabbitohs, and have an opportunity to put last year's shocking 58-0 finals exit to Parramatta behind them.

With only 26 NRL appearances next to his name, Haas believes he is a long way off reaching his potential but his goals are clear.

"We've come back to training pretty well," he said.

"Everyone has been pretty energetic. We can start like we did earlier this year.

"I want to back up what I did last year and at the end of the day, we want to win a premiership. Those are my two main goals."

Originally published as Fasting keeps hungry Haas focused