The Brisbane Broncos believe rookie utility Kotoni Staggs can be their own version of Penrith Panthers star Tyrone Peachey, with the 19-year-old’s game sense and versatility one of his great strengths.
Staggs hails from Wellington, the same small NSW town that produced Peachey, and the similarities in their play has already been noted by those who have watched both in action.
Staggs came off the bench to replace the concussed Tom Opacic and played 76 minutes in his NRL debut against Sydney Roosters last Friday where he set up a try, scored one and defended with vigour.
He had been playing for the Redcliffe Dolphins in the Intrust Super Cup in the second-row and centre where he was the competition’s leading point scorer before his NRL debut, despite having played just seven of the nine rounds.
The Broncos have Staggs on their books until the end of 2020 and consider him to be a star of the future.
He played five or six different positions in the under 20s last year and didn’t miss a beat, even filling in at front-row with distinction.
"I’ve seen Tyrone Peachey play and he has that fearless style about him that reflects in the way Kotoni plays,” Broncos winger Jamayne Isaako told NRL.com.
"Kotoni is known to be able to cover a variety of key positions like Peachey. He is a little bloke but he is willing to take a shot for the team and that is what we need with our older blokes out.
''Kotoni did a great job in his debut game. He is not scared to run those tight lines and he did that and came away with a try.
''I’d never seen him play before but to see that performance from a young bloke was certainly inspiring."
The Broncos took Staggs to Theodore in regional Queensland for a trial against the CQ Capras in the pre-season, mainly for the experience of getting away with the squad and getting to know the playing group.
Super League recruit Andre Savelio went down early with a season ending knee injury early in that game. Staggs put his hand up to play back-row on an edge and did so with aplomb.
So far Staggs has showcased courage, instinct, enthusiasm and a willingness to do whatever is required of him on a football field.
Redcliffe Dolphins coach Adam Mogg said Staggs was “one of those lucky players who is just unique.”
"I don’t over coach him. Some kids need it and some don’t, but he is just a natural footballer who understands rugby league well and plays with vision," Mogg said.
"He’s not quite Tyrone Peachey yet, because he is close to the best utility in the game, but he has the same ability to play multiple positions.
"He’s not afraid of contact at all and can play centre, five-eighth, lock and second-row.
"I hope he stays in first grade for the rest of the year."
Staggs has been named again on the bench for the Broncos in Thursday night’s clash with the Parramatta Eels.