Injury fear won’t stop Staggs from fulfilling Origin dream

Kotoni Staggs sent an injury scare to the Blues camp on Thursday, but after fearing he’d never get a chance to fulfill his childhood Origin dream, the Broncos star won’t have the pain of a dislocated finger. affect his performance in next Wednesday night’s series opener at the Accor stadium.

Staggs sustained the injury during a tackle drill and felt uneasy after the session as it took about five minutes for the NSW medical staff to reposition the ring finger of his left hand.

However, the 23-year-old centre, who trained with Tongan team-mate Daniel Tupou on the NSW right, has worked too hard to change his life for the hand injury to affect his Origin debut.

“I loved Origin and it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid, so it’s surreal to be here now.”
©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

After being warned by NRL CEO Andrew Abdo last year that he was jeopardizing his career following a series of off-field incidents, Staggs has made a concerted effort to improve his life and the rewards are clearly in the form he has seen this year. for the Broncos has shown. season and its Origin call.

“I wouldn’t say I missed my chances, but I knew I had to turn myself off the field,” Staggs said.

“I made some stupid decisions, but it wasn’t who I was. I just had to look at myself and tell myself I’m better than that, and that I can change so I can do what I love to do and be good play football.”

Staggs, a proud Wiradjuri man, grew up in Wellington and was raised by his grandmother Dawn.

Staggs, a junior from Wellington Cowboys, dreamed of playing Origin for the Blues, but his first senior representative jersey was for Tonga, for whom he qualifies through his US-based father Kotoni.

“My family is still in Wellington, some are in Brisbane and I also have a lot of Tongan family here in Sydney, as well as in Tonga, and also in America,” Staggs said.

“My father now lives in America. I haven’t met my father in a long time, and it’s just something I wanted to do. He flew over and I met him after I played for Tonga.

“This means a lot to my family. They have been a big part of my journey and my life. It’s something that I can give back to my family and make them proud.

“I am a proud native boy who grew up in Wellington. I loved footy, I loved Origin and it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid, so it’s surreal to be here now.”

Staggs was at Eagle Farm races last Saturday when he got the call from NSW coach Brad Fittler telling him he had finally been selected for the Blues after being on the brink several times in the past.

Although he did not support a winner during the races, the news was much better and Staggs was emotional when he told his family.

“I was immediately quite proud and emotional,” he said. “What came to mind was the journey I had to make to get here and the sacrifices I had to make.

“It dawned on me that all the hard work I’ve put in has paid off; doing the right things off the field and not doing the things you shouldn’t, being aware of my potential and putting all the drama I had off the field behind me.

“It’s a dream I’ve wanted to realize for a long time.”

The Broncos center realizes that he and the likes of Tyrone Peachey and Blake Ferguson are role models for young people in Wellington and hoped his Origin roster would inspire them to pursue their dreams.

“I’m from the same community and they probably look up to me, so I want to be a good example for the young people who are coming through and I want them to achieve their goals too,” Staggs said.

“The community in Wellington and the younger kids coming up don’t stand out that much. Myself, and a few other guys from there, are in a position where we can help our community and get our community going again.

“We are like a big family there and everyone takes care of each other. It’s a good position I’m in now with what I can do for my community.”

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