He famously kicked a 40-metre field goal to win an A-Grade when he was just 14, he notoriously chased down and caught a kangaroo in the bush, and he deservedly made his Broncos debut as a teenager, but Kotoni Staggs has grand ambitions that far outweigh any of his achievements so far.
Hailing from the Central West NSW town of Wellington, which has produced famous names such as Blake Ferguson, Tyrone Peachey and Josh Addo-Carr, rugby league has always been a big part of his life.
Now Staggs wants to use football as a tool to ensure Wellington’s next generation stay on the right path; something that is easier said than done given the drug and alcohol issues that have gripped the region.
“You hear some bad stories about the town – some people call it the capital of Antarctica because there’s so much ice – but it’s a small community that’s getting better every year,” he proudly tells Big League.
“Everyone loves each other and footy, and it’s important for them to go hand-in-hand.
“I love my community and I’m proud of where I come from. I’d love to go back there and set a good example and show the kids what can happen if you get your life on track.
“Footy got me away from the streets when I was younger. I grew up around the right people, and footy was always something we looked forward to on the weekend. I want to make that the norm for everyone back there.”
When it comes to feel-good stories out of Wellington, Staggs is right up there.
He started playing footy for the Wellington Cowboys in the under-5s and quickly progressed through the ranks, maturing in the blink of the eye surrounded by men twice his age.
“I made my A-Grade debut when I was 14. From then, I ended up in the A-Grade team for three years before I got a contract with the Broncos for the under-20s,” he says.
“It makes you mature more quickly. You’re around the big men and the older guys so you see a few eye-opening things, but it also makes you respect them more. It makes you grow up.”
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