AAP Rugby

Kangaroos Test caps stellar year for Haas

By AAP Newswire

This time last year Payne Haas was an emerging rugby league talent considering a game for a developing rugby league nation.

Twelve months on Haas, 19, is considered the best front-rower in the NRL and poised to make his debut for the best Test team in the world.

The Kangaroos rookie is part of a 19-man squad to face New Zealand as part of the Oceania Cup in Wollongong on Friday.

"It feels like a dream. I'm still pinching myself, especially with the calibre of players that's in this team," Pass said on Tuesday.

"I was still in high school and these guys were still playing for Australia. To be right next to them in camp, learning off them ... it's pretty crazy."

His selection comes a year after talk Haas was going to appear for league minnows the Philippines in an Emerging Nations World Championships last year.

Haas represented the Philippines four years ago, while his brother Klese played for them in an exhibition match last weekend.

Payne watched Klese via live stream while in camp with the Kangaroos.

"Playing for Philippines was pretty cool, it's my dad's culture. I'm just proud to represent my dad there, it's something I'll never forget," Haas said.

"I wasn't going to play (last year), but they were talking about it. Obviously things can happen in a year, it's just crazy that I'm here now."

A likely Test debut caps a stunning season highlighted by being the first player to be crowned Dally M rookie and prop of the year at the same time.

He'll line up alongside the likes of David Klemmer and Josh Papalii, who also made a case as one of the NRL's best props in 2019 with Canberra.

Asked who he thought was the No.1 front-rower in the game, Haas replied: "I think I'll give it to Josh, he's been doing it for longer than me.

"I've got to prove myself in the next few years.

"Looking at the year he's had (and) the past few years, he's been one of the best forwards in the game."

After arriving in Kiama on the NSW south coast on Monday, the Kangaroos ramped up their preparations to face the Kiwis with an opposed session against their junior squad.