Boom Brisbane Broncos prop Payne Haas has been fined $20,000 by the club and stood down for the opening four rounds of the 2019 NRL competition for failing to co-operate with the NRL Integrity Unit regarding an incident involving his family.
Broncos CEO Paul White said the sanctions related to an incident involving the 19-year-old's family, which is understood to involve violence and complaints from members of the public.
White said Haas had not committed any violent acts himself, or broken the law, but that he had not co-operated with the NRL Integrity Unit to a level expected by the club.
Haas, who starred in the 42-0 trial win over Souths-Logan on Saturday after training strongly in the pre-season, will now miss the clashes with Melbourne, North Queensland, St George-Illawarra and the Sydney Roosters.
His absence from selection consideration will be a blow to the Broncos but White said that the club had standards that must be upheld.
"We are not happy with Payne's level of co-operation with the Integrity Unit in relation to the matters involving his family," White said.
"We have a duty to protect the reputation of our club and our game – and that is why we have handed down the significant sanctions that we have.
"He will miss the opening rounds of the competition and that is a heavy price to pay, but we see this as a mistake made by young man and we are confident that Payne will learn his lesson.
"We do hope this sends a strong message that the values and integrity of everyone here at the Broncos is of utmost importance to our club."
Why Broncos suspended Payne Haas
The punishment of Haas has been enacted by the Broncos, but White said the sanctions had also been endorsed by the NRL Integrity Unit.
"It's a difficult situation. You've got a young man, and matters involving his family and obviously there are competing priorities there," White said.
"Payne understands with the benefit of hindsight there may have been a better way to resolve this. We don't have that benefit now.
"We needed to take action. We also needed to send a strong message to everyone out there in the community who supports our club and our game about the importance of our co-operation with the NRL in particular."
White said the Broncos had received information about an incident that was not in the public domain or under investigation and that the club had spent a long period of time working through all the issues before making its own decision on sanctions on Tuesday.
While trial matches are not included in the suspension, Haas won't be playing in the remaining club trials because White said to do so wouldn't be in the interests of the club or the teenage prop himself.
He said coach Anthony Seibold had been involved in the decision right through the process and had shown strong leadership.
Haas will not be available for Broncos selection until the round five clash with the Wests Tigers, which has opened the door for 19-year-old prop Thomas Flegler and 21-year-old lock Patrick Carrigan to push their claims for a bench spot in the round one Telstra Premiership clash with the Storm.
Veterans Shaun Fensom and Sam Tagataese are also in the frame. That quartet will have the opportunity to push their claims in the trial clash with Wynnum-Manly on Saturday night.
Haas will be missed by the team but White said the club hoped the sanctions would be "a reference point" in his career as the Broncos took a longer term view.
"We have to think what is in the best interest of the player… and what he is going to look like as a player in five years time," White said.
"Payne's penalty is going to provide an opportunity for someone else. You've seen the young forwards we've got coming through the system and we are very lucky as a club that we have recruited and developed some wonderful young talent. You will see again on Saturday night [in the trial against Wynnum-Manly] other players put up their hand for a starting spot.
"We would hope as a club that it doesn’t have an impact on our chance for premiership success. We do have a tough draw in those first four [NRL] rounds and it is fair to say we would have loved to have had our full complement of players available but we have taken a long term view, and Anthony Seibold, has taken a longer-term view."