NRL News 2022, Kotoni Staggs v Siosifa Talakai, Brisbane Broncos v Cronulla Sharks, State of Origin, NSW Blues team

Thursday night’s NRL match was designed as a personal showdown between State of Origin hopefuls Kotoni Staggs and Siosifa Talakai.

With Latrell Mitchell’s injury likely to rule the Rabbitohs center out of Origin I on June 8, New South Wales coach Brad Fittler is on the hunt for a new three-quarterback.

Staggs has been waiting behind the scenes for a Blues jumper for several seasons, while Talakai came out of the ground last week with a monstrous game against Manly.

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From the start at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday, fans could tell they were ready for a tantalizing contest.

An early carry from Talakai met a shot from Staggs that showed the Broncos center was ready for the fight.

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And full time, there was no doubt that Staggs had won the battle. He scored a brilliant first-half try when he leaped outside Talakai and then held off Ronaldo Mulitalo to find the line.

Then in the dying minutes, Talakai crossed the try line but was held back by Staggs and teenage winger Selwyn Cobbo.

Stream the NRL Premiership 2022 live and for free on 9Now.

“I thought it was fantastic,” Fittler told Nine after the Central Battle match.

“That tells me the Broncos right side got the win. A little experience from Adam Reynolds helped.

“Kotoni, going out with a defensive mindset, but being able to score that try at half time, says a lot about what he is capable of.

“Focus on defending, but you still have the power to pick up Talakai and beat the winger in the corner…it was an incredible effort.”

Even the opposing coach had to admit that Staggs won the battle against Talakai.

“He was a bit flat,” Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon said of his own player.

“(Staggs) is a hell of a player. He’s a quality player.”

Tellingly, Fitzgibbon was a member of the Fittler’s Blues coaching staff. He won’t be this year, given that he is now NRL head coach.

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Broncos point guard Tyson Gamble was asked if Staggs was nervous about the confrontation with Talakai.

“He was shaken mate, he was so scared,” Gamble joked to Nine.

“Believe me, you wouldn’t want to see him in the hangars. He had a picture of (Talakai) there. He couldn’t sleep.”

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