The Wellington Cowboys junior has dreamed of playing for the Blues since he was a kid. Picture: Adam Head.
The Wellington Cowboys junior has dreamed of playing for the Blues since he was a kid. Picture: Adam Head.

Origin bolter: Staggs sets sights on NSW jersey

Broncos centre Kotoni Staggs has set his sights on a NSW Origin debut after carving-up his one-time mentor James Roberts with a hat-trick demolition of the Rabbitohs on Friday night.

Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold declared Staggs could achieve "anything" in the sport after the 21-year-old celebrated the first treble of his 35-game career to propel the Broncos to a 22-18 disposal of the Bunnies.

 

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Staggs has emerged as one of the most dangerous attackers in the NRL. He is virtually unstoppable in the red zone, having scored 11 tries from his last 11 games, and now the Broncos ace is hungry for higher honours.

There is still no guarantee the Origin series will go ahead amid the coronavirus pandemic but if it does, Staggs pledged to keep NSW centre incumbents Tom Trbojevic and Jack Wighton honest in the battle for Blues jumpers.

"That was my dream as a little kid, to wear that blue jersey," said Staggs, who made his Test debut for Tonga last June.

"When I'd watch (State of Origin) it was always something I wanted to play.

Kotoni Staggs was unstoppable against the Rabbitohs, scoring three tries and finishing on over 100 KFC SuperCoach points. Picture: AAP.
Kotoni Staggs was unstoppable against the Rabbitohs, scoring three tries and finishing on over 100 KFC SuperCoach points. Picture: AAP.

"I didn't even think about Australia or Tonga growing up. It was always the Blues.

"That is what I want to chase this year and hopefully if I can keep playing consistent footy 'Freddy' (NSW coach Brad Fittler) is watching."

 

It was fitting former Broncos centre turned Rabbitoh Roberts was at Suncorp to witness Staggs' lethal display from close range.

During his four-year tenure at the Broncos, Roberts was Brisbane's No.1 centre and upon Staggs' promotion to the full-time squad two years ago, the Wellington whiz sought the counsel of 'The Jet'.

Staggs has now scored 11 tries in his last 11 games. Picture: AAP.
Staggs has now scored 11 tries in his last 11 games. Picture: AAP.

"'Jimmy' (Roberts) taught me a lot when I first came here," Staggs said.

"He mentored me when I first came through and gave me a couple of tips.

"I learnt a lot off him definitely in defence. He is a good defender. He used to tip me up every day at training and pull me aside when I did something wrong. If I did something right he'd pull me aside and tell me I'd done a good job and to keep going.

"As soon as I get the footy I am (running) one hundred per cent. That is a bit like Jimmy."

 

Seibold lauded Staggs' development over the past 18 months.

The Wellington Cowboys junior has dreamed of playing for the Blues since he was a kid. Picture: Adam Head.
The Wellington Cowboys junior has dreamed of playing for the Blues since he was a kid. Picture: Adam Head.

 

 

"Kotoni can do whatever he wants in the game," the Broncos coach said. "If he continues to work hard and be diligent and make sacrifices, then his potential is unlimited.

"He can score a try. I imagine he was a handful as a young fella and I can see why the club has had him since he was 14 years old in the system.

"Kotoni is a good pro, he prepares really well. He missed a lot of the pre-season with a foot injury and we didn't think he would play a trial, but he worked really hard to get back for the Nines.

"His speed and power got him across the tryline. I am proud of the way he is playing."

Originally published as Origin bolter: Staggs sets sights on NSW jersey

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