Kotoni Staggs touches down for the Broncos. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)
Kotoni Staggs touches down for the Broncos. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Bennett furious at bizarre Staggs ruling

BRONCOS coach Wayne Bennett has been left fuming over an NRL rule which could see young gun Kotoni Staggs remain benched for the rest of the season unless the club are hit by an injury crisis.

The gifted utility will not be able to start for Brisbane in their clash with the Warriors today, despite an injury to Origin centre James Roberts.

Staggs is not a top 30 player for the Broncos and therefore, under NRL rules, cannot start in a specialist position for the club if there are other options available.

Brisbane have centre Tom Opacic in their top 30, but he was sent back to the Intrust Super Cup to play for Redcliffe.

Staggs was named on the bench at the start of the week but NSW star Roberts was a late scratching yesterday as he continues to battle a problem with his Achilles tendon.

An unhappy Bennett fronted the media and revealed that backrower Jaydn Su'A will start at centre instead, given Staggs cannot be promoted to the starting side.

When he was asked if he was happy with the rule, Bennett did not dance around the subject.

Roberts has forced Brisbane into a reshuffle.
Roberts has forced Brisbane into a reshuffle.

"No, but that's the rules, so you live with it," he said.

"I don't want to go into them but the rules are that he can't start. It's nothing to do with us as a club, it's the NRL rules."

Given Staggs is not a top 30 player, the Broncos have to seek permission from the NRL every time they want him to use him and it is expected he will continue to only play off the bench unless Brisbane suffer more injuries.

The only reason Staggs was allowed to start last week against the Titans was because it was an Origin-affected round.

Despite his initial unhappiness over the ruling from the NRL, Bennett said the club would not let themselves become fazed by the changes, with star forward Tevita Pangai Jr also ruled out with a hamstring strain.

David Fifita will start in the backrow for Su'A, while Patrick Mago will come onto the bench for Pangai Jr.

"We're in a good position," Bennett said.

"The team's confident, that's the main thing. We have a good squad. We've had disruptions all year, so that's not unusual.

"David has come in the last couple of weeks and done a good job for us. He's played a lot of time and minutes.

"It doesn't really faze us because we've been through a season of a lot of players missing and other guys putting their hand up and getting the job done."

A win today against the Warriors will be crucial for the Broncos, who are trying to press their claims for a top four finish.