The Broncos have shown their players the consequences of their actions. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)
The Broncos have shown their players the consequences of their actions. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Short-term Payne for long-term gain

A Broncos insider said to me this week, "Now we're being too tough. We can't win."

Not sure I agree with that. I reckon the Broncos will win big time over their decision to suspend Payne Haas for four games and fine him $20,000.

Of course the question of just how hard a rugby league club should come down on misbehaving players has been in the spotlight this week with the publicity over the Jack de Belin case.

Some, including me, have argued that the NRL has missed a golden opportunity to draw that much fabled "line in the sand" and stand de Belin down pending the outcome of his upcoming court case.

Others have taken the "innocent until guilty" route, although my uneducated guess would be that they are in the minority.

As for the Haas fallout, I seriously can't see how anyone could think that the Broncos have done anything less than act in the best interests of the game, the player and the club.

Anyone who puts long-term standards ahead of short-term competition points anyway.

One of the most overused words in the rugby league lexicon these days is "culture".

Well, if you want to build a culture you are going to have to not only set some pretty high standards, but police them as well.

Which, to my mind, is exactly what the Broncos have done.

 

Brisbane CEO Paul White took the chance to show the expectations. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)
Brisbane CEO Paul White took the chance to show the expectations. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

 

Admittedly the facts surrounding the events that led to Haas being suspended and fined remain sketchy, but as best I can make out he was a witness to an incident involving family.

When the incident was reported to the Broncos, as they are required to do, they passed it on to the NRL Integrity Unit to investigate.

At no stage was Haas found to have been physically involved in the incident but the Integrity Unit believed that he was less than forthcoming in his answers to their questions.

Not a hanging offence, you say? Maybe not, but not what the Broncos would expect from one of their most promising and highly paid young players either.

 

Haas will return with a point to prove. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)
Haas will return with a point to prove. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)

 

By taking the action they did, they showed the rugby league community that, unlike some clubs, they are prepared to make the tough calls. They also showed all their players that no matter who they are, if they cross the line, they pay the fine.

And who knows, they might just have saved Payne Haas's career.

You have to wonder how things would have turned out for some of the game's most wasted talents if they too had been pulled into line early on instead of being treated like black-throat finches - a protected species.

 

Anthony Seibold has already proven himself a bold coach. (AAP Image/Darren England)
Anthony Seibold has already proven himself a bold coach. (AAP Image/Darren England)

 

There is also another side to this story that seems to have been largely overlooked, and that is the part played by Anthony Seibold.

Imagine the conundrum faced by this young coach in the weeks before his first game for his new club - a club whose supporters expect more from their team than just about any others in the game.

Should he risk dropping vital early points in order to adhere to his, and the club's, high standards?

Or should he suggest to CEO Paul White that a fine and suspended suspension would suffice and go into the first four games of the competition with a full complement of players?

After all, no one outside the club would ever know.

It is to his credit that he chose to follow his principles and back White in taking a tough stance.

I have a feeling that Seibold and White will come out as winners through their actions - and not just during that four game stretch without Haas.

The true results will be seen months, weeks, even years down the track.

That's the way culture grows.