Kotoni Staggs’ uncle has him on the verge of tears at NSW Blues jumper presentation as he tells him the grandma who helped raise him will be watching on from heaven
- Kotoni Staggs was on the verge of tears after being presented his NSW jumper
- Staggs, 23, is expected to provide the ‘X-Factor’ for Brad Fittler’s side tonight
- His uncle reminded him of his nan’s pride in her grandson’s Origin debut
There were emotional scenes in the Blues camp when Brisbane Broncos star Kotoni Staggs reflected on his tough upbringing after being handed his NSW jersey.
Staggs was presented with his Blues jumper ahead of tonight’s huge State of Origin clash at Accor Stadium, with Brad Fittler’s side looking to clinch victory in Game I over Billy Slater’s underdogs.
The Origin debutant was raised by his Nan, Dawn, while his mother, Leanne, was twice jailed and she died in October 2019.
There were emotional scenes at the Blues camp after Kotoni Staggs was given his jumper
The 23-year-old will make his Origin debut after impressing at the Brisbane Broncos
Staggs’s uncle, Trent, said of how ‘proud’ Dawn would have been of the 23-year-old if she was still around to see him making it to the big stage.
‘Nan would be so proud,’ Trent told Kotoni before his NSW teammates.
Trent later said to The Daily Telegraph: ‘She would be up there having a drink, getting right on it. She’d be having a Tooheys New and yelling out: ‘Go my boy’.
‘I told him at the jumper presentation that he had finally made it and that everyone from back home is so proud – all the young kids, the family and his nan, who is my mum, would be very proud.
‘Hopefully Kotoni goes out there and represents the family on Wednesday night and gets a win for the nan he loves dearly.
Staggs was raised by his grandmother, Dawn, while his mother spent two stints in jail
‘Kotoni’s nan helped him while his mum was going through a tough time. She’s had a rough trot but we all do at times in life.
‘But his mum always made sure Kotoni had new clothes on his back and food on the table. She wasn’t too bad herself, she was good for us.
‘When his nan was alive, Kotoni would always tell her that he was going to make it and now he has finally done that.
‘It was an awesome night presenting the jumpers. Kotoni was trying to hold back tears. I think we all were. I knew he would make it and I am so proud. Proud is understatement.’
Brad Fittler hopes Staggs will provide the ‘X-Factor’ to hand the Blues their first victory
Staggs is embracing his tag as Fittler’s ‘X-Factor’ with the Broncos star expected to fill the void left by the injured Tom Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell and provide the spark for his side.
‘I think Kotoni brings a fair bit of X-factor,’ Fittler said on Tuesday. ‘I know they [Trbojevic and Mitchell] stood out last year, but there were a lot of people doing good stuff around them.
‘When Kotoni busts the line, something normally happens. He has that little bit of speed not everyone has got, which is one of the real reasons we picked him. There are points in us.’