NRL great backs Kotoni Staggs to replace injured Latrell Mitchell in New South Wales' Origin squad

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NRL great backs Broncos star Kotoni Staggs to replace injured Latrell Mitchell in New South Wales’ Origin squad after ‘single-handedly DISMANTLING’ opponents over the past two weeks  

  • New South Wales expected to be without Latrell Mitchell for Origin I 
  • South Sydney star ruled out for eight weeks with a hamstring injury 
  • Ryan Girdler believes Kotoni Staggs deserves a spot in the Blues squad 
  • Broncos star centre has looked back to his best over the past two weeks 

NRL great Ryan Girdler believes Kotoni Staggs has done enough to warrant a spot in the New South Wales State of Origin squad in place of the injured Latrell Mitchell.

The South Sydney star has been ruled out for eight weeks with a hamstring issue and is a major doubt ahead of the interstate series opener on June 8 at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

Blues coach Brad Fittler is spoilt for choices when it comes to a potential replacement and Girdler suggested it would be hard to look past Staggs. 

Ryan Girdler believes Kotoni Staggs (above) deserves a spot in New South Wales squad

Ryan Girdler believes Kotoni Staggs (above) deserves a spot in New South Wales squad

‘It is going to be hard to dent Kotoni Staggs’ form of late,’ Girlder said on Triple M’s The Saturday Scrum.

‘The way that Kotoni has just single-handedly sort of dismantled the opposition in two consecutive weeks against some quality talented players, he is going to be pushing for a spot as well.’ 

After a slow start to the season, the Brisbane Broncos centre, who suffered an MCL injury in July last year, has looked back to his best over the past two weeks.

In Round 5 he scored a brilliant try against the Sydney Roosters, fending off a tackle from Paul Momirovski before trampling over Sam Walker.  

After a slow start this season, the Broncos gun has been back to his best in the past two weeks

After a slow start this season, the Broncos gun has been back to his best in the past two weeks

Brisbane’s 40-12 defeat against Penrith on Good Friday was their fourth in a row, but their star centre shone brightly again finishing with a game-high seven tackle breaks, a try assist and a try.

Staggs’ recent form has silenced the critics who had questioned his contribution earlier in the season, with Fox League pundits Corey Parker and Michael Ennis both calling for him to be more involved.

‘I’m not sure if the Brisbane halves just aren’t getting him the ball or whether Kotoni’s disinterested,’ Ennis said after the Broncos lost 20-6 against the Warriors in Round 4.

‘It’s one of the two, because he has been basically non-existent for them the last fortnight.’  

Staggs bulldozed his way through the Roosters defence in Round 5 at Suncorp Stadium

Staggs bulldozed his way through the Roosters defence in Round 5 at Suncorp Stadium

Running over the top of Sam Walker (above) to score a brilliant side for the Broncos

Running over the top of Sam Walker (above) to score a brilliant side for the Broncos

Girdler said Penrith centre Stephen Crichton could also be in the frame for the Blues. The 21-year-old was part of New South Wales’ 27-man in 2020 but did not play and Girdler believes he could get a second chance.

‘I think a lot of his form often gets overlooked,’ the 2003 Premiership winner said.

‘Crichton has been in great touch and he contributes on a weekly basis, he is really consistent, he is a great defensive player and is always looking for work and has a great attitude towards the game. 

Latrell Mitchell has been ruled out for almost two months with a hamstring injury

Latrell Mitchell has been ruled out for almost two months with a hamstring injury

‘He is certainly going to be there or thereabouts.’

Meanwhile, Mitchell is adamant he can return to action within six weeks and prove his fitness to the New South Wales selectors.

‘I’m trying to do everything possible to get back and get two weeks under my belt before selection – and it’s up the big fella [coach Brad Fittler] if I’m ready,’ Mitchell told Nine ahead of South Sydney’s Good Friday clash against Canterbury. 

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