NEWS How Brisbane star Kotoni Staggs remodeld his game as he pushes for a State of Origin recall


New South Wales coach Michael Maguire has plenty of tough selection calls to make when he selecs his first State of Origin side but one headache the Blues coach will be happy to have is at centre.

Between incumbents Bradman Best and Stephen Crichton, established Origin stars like Tom Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell and up and comers such as Izack Tago, and Zac Lomax, Maguire is spoiled for choice.

But Brisbane’s fiery Kotoni Staggs keeps playing the kind of tough football that might make him impossible to pass up, either at centre or on the bench.

Staggs has some Origin experience – he got through 52 minutes of his sole appearance in the 2022 series opener before succumbing to a shoulder injury – and he’s hell bent on making sure he’s not a one-hit wonder in the interstate series.

“I want to be back there, I didn’t really get my opportunity when I did play because it was cut short,” Staggs said.

“But if I play good footy with the Broncos, that’ll do the talking, that’s how you get picked. As long as I keep doing that, keep doing my job, don’t change anything, don’t try and be the hero and solve it all myself. If I play as a teammate, hopefully I’ll get looked at.

“He (Maguire) just said there’s a lot of people going for the same spot as me and all I can do is play my role and play my game.”

Staggs is a more complete and consistent player than he was two years ago – while running with the ball in attacking situations has always come naturally to him, he admits he didn’t always didn’t always relish working hard from his own end.

As such, his impact could be limited to whatever ball his halves could provide. But over the last 18 months, Staggs has embraced working hard from his own end and the results have been plain to see.

Staggs posted career highs in tries, line breaks, tackle busts and metres per game last year as he enjoyed his best year in the top grade, which ended with him making his Test debut for Australia.

This year he’s only crossed the stripe once but his all-round game remains strong – he’s averaging more metres per game in 2024 than ever before.

“I was more worried about getting early ball and taking the carries down their end. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really want to take the tough carries,” Staggs said.

“But the way to change my game, to let my teammates know I’m there for them is to get early ball or take tough carries down our end. I love it now, I thrive on it, I love getting involved more now.

“Even if I’m not scoring tries and running over people I’m doing my job and the boys can see that.”

Staggs’ maturation as a player has led to him taking more of a leadership role among the young Broncos side.

The 25-year old has 110 Broncos matches to his name, tied with Payne Haas for second most of any player in Brisbane’s squad, and he’s doing what he can to use that experience.

Staggs has taken a special interest in young flyer Deine Mariner, who’s joined him down the right edge so far this season.

“He’s had a handful of games now and his confidence is growing each week. He made a few mistakes against the Tigers but you can either dwell on them or you can keep your head up and make it personal,” Staggs said.

“He didn’t go into his shell, which was good. I just want to be there as a mentor for him, teach him a few things and get him where he needs to be.

“I was pretty quiet growing up but I’ve been in the top grade for a while now. I don’t like leading with my words, although you have to sometimes, I prefer actions. I want to show them what I do on the field so they want to be a part of it.

“I love picking them up when they’re down, that’s my way of leading by example. We’re a young team, but I want to be a leader, I want to show them they can get to another level.”



State of Origin Rep
Sep 19, 2012
Is this copy/paste? Because there is a spelling error in the very first sentence.


NRL Player
Jul 3, 2021
Like this thinking by Kotoni, hopefully he uses it when it's time to talk contracts, with being team player.


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