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Staggs on rise for Broncos as Hodges lessons hit home

Kotoni Staggs was once coached by Broncos legend Justin Hodges and now the 20-year-old wants to follow in his footsteps and have a massive impact on the outcome of games in attack and defence.

Staggs is on the right track after he tallied two tries, two line break assists and two line breaks in the 28-6 win over Canterbury on Thursday in a man of the match performance.

He had watched Hodges closely growing up and in particular the defensive clout the Maroons and Kangaroos representative always brought to the table.

"The Broncos were the team I followed growing up and Hodgo was one of my idols in the centres," Staggs said.

"He was such a good ball runner and knew when to hit the line at the right time. He always had an offload and a good fend.

"The best thing about him was that he was such a good defender. He always communicated with his winger and whoever was inside him. The key thing he looked after was his defence because he knew he had his attack there all the time.

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"My first year at the Broncos was in the under 20s and Hodgo was assistant coach. I learned a lot from him.  It was unreal being coached by someone you used to watch. I still watch his highlight reels today."

Staggs is a pocket rocket and a different style of attacker to the lean Hodges. The outcome of their incisions is often the same but Staggs, who is now starting games rather than coming off the interchange bench, said he was asked to work more on his defence at the start of the year by coach Anthony Seibold.

"That was probably my best game of the season and I think it is because my defence that has improved a lot of since I started and I’m getting the opportunity to start," he said.

"I had to fix up a few little areas of my defence at the start of the year. I worked on that and that has helped my attack as well.

"I have been moved from the left to the right but that suits me because it is where I feel more comfortable."

Seibold said Staggs was a player he had believed in and backed since his arrival at the club due to his enormous potential and work ethic. He showed how much faith he had in the former Wellington junior by being prepared to release star centre James Roberts mid-year to Souths.

Staggs is now playing in the right centre position that Roberts had once owned.

"To play at right centre where James was is big shoes to fill and I am slowly getting there and learning my position each week," he said.

"We have a young team but I have played a few more games than some of the younger boys so I feel as though I am a leader for them."

In another show of faith by the the coach, Staggs now has the added responsibility of kicking for goal after taking over from Jamayne Isaako.

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"Seibs pulled me aside when Jamayne was out and said he wanted me to do the kicking. He’s put me there ever since and I am happy to do that for the team," he said.

"Tonight wasn’t my best night with the boot [with three from seven] but I have just got to do more practice."

The Broncos will look to continue their climb up the ladder in the South-East Queensland derby next week against the Titans on the Gold Coast.

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Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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