Rising star Staggs to finally meet his father

By the end of 2019 Kotoni Staggs hopes to have established himself as a Brisbane Broncos regular and connected with the father that he has never met.

The 20-year-old has a brother, Gordon, who is playing gridiron in the American college system with a view to making it in the NFL. Living with him in California is Staggs' father, also Kotoni.

"Hopefully at the end of this year I can go over there and see him. I am pretty excited," Staggs said.

"I only started talking to him a couple of years ago. I've never met him.

"I just want to get my football out of the way first this year and then make some arrangements to go and meet him.

"He knows I am playing here with the Broncos but doesn't really have any idea what football over here, and the NRL, is like."

Broncos centre Kotoni Staggs.
Broncos centre Kotoni Staggs. ©NRL Photos

Staggs, who will play off the bench against Melbourne on Thursday night, has impressed coach Anthony Seibold so much in the pre-season that he is putting genuine pressure on starting centres Jack Bird and James Roberts.

"My challenge every day at training is to compete so I can get that starting spot for myself," Staggs said.

"That utility spot is there for me and I want to take that role on."

Seibold said recently that Staggs' rise was "a great story" as well as a real talent.

It is a tribute to Staggs' mindset that he has risen above challenging circumstances as a youth. It has been well documented that his mother Leanne once spent some time in prison for minor offences when he was younger. Staggs' grandmother, Dawn, was a wonderful support through those times when he was growing up in Wellington.

"She is a massive influence on me. I could say that I wouldn't be here if it wasn’t for her. My nan is a big part of my life and always will be," Staggs said.

"She came to my debut [NRL] game and that is a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life. I love her to death.

"I grew up with my mum … and then I moved into another home with a friend of mine that took me in for about six years. I always looked up to mum and [saw] her every day and made sure she was OK. She did everything for us kids and I love her for who she is.

"My mum has had a tough life but I have had a lot of support back home and a lot of family around me to help me out to be where I am today."

Staggs now wants to be an example to youngsters growing up in Wellington, and follow in the footsteps of Tyrone Peachey who also grew up in the NSW town.

"Not many people would know about Wellington from up this way," Staggs said.

"As a community it is getting better as the years go by and I am proud to have come out of that town.

Broncos centre Kotoni Staggs.
Broncos centre Kotoni Staggs. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

"I just want to give back to the community and show the younger kids back home that there are opportunities if you take them. I have a lot of friends that could have been in the same position to be where I am today, but they took the wrong track."

And Staggs is more than happy to wear the comparisons with Peachey, with whom he has played in Koori Knockouts.

"Me and Tyrone come from the same community and I do play a bit like him," Staggs said.

"He is a bit of a utility player as well, puts his body on the line every week and is a little fella as well. I am probably the same height as him so I have just got to go out and put my body on the line as well for the team."