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Kotoni Staggs cast his mind back to being a rugby league-loving five-year-old in country NSW to help him re-discover his best in Brisbane’s wild 24-20 loss to the Sydney Roosters on Friday night.

After a below-par opening month to the 2022 season, the strike centre erupted with 196 running metres, one try, a career-best 13 tackle busts and two line breaks for the Broncos.

The 23-year-old had not run for 80 metres or over in any of his first four matches and had come under the spotlight for his lack of general involvement in attack for Brisbane.

But he wreaked havoc on Brisbane’s right edge all night while Roosters star Joseph Manu produced a similar barnstorming display on the other side of the field that had coach Trent Robinson labelling him as the best centre in the game.

“My first couple of games, I wasn’t where my standard was and I’ve just come off an ACL and people out in the real world don’t realise how long it really does take to recover,” Staggs said.

That’s where my standard was tonight and that’s where I’ve got to be every game.

Kotoni Staggs

“I just really focussed back to when I was five years-old and what got me to where I am and that five-year-old from Wellington (near Dubbo) doing his thing and having fun and enjoying the game of footy.’’

Staggs said while the result did not go Brisbane’s way, the quality of the performance was a stark improvement on the defeats at the hands of North Queensland and New Zealand.

Staggs immense for brave Broncos

And it would give the Broncos some momentum heading into this Friday’s clash with Penrith when Brisbane will be staring down the barrel of four-straight losses.

“It’s pretty tough to lose. All that we focussed on in the week was to be better than our last game and win, lose or draw I think we can get a lot of confidence out if that to go against Penrith next week,’’ Staggs said.

“Roosters are a quality team and they are up there as well. Penrith are the premiers and it’s in Penrith too so it’s going to be pretty tough down there.

“We can take a lot of positives out of tonight. We’ve got a forward pack there to challenge their pack and we’ve got the backs to do the same to their backs. We just have to get a bit more ball, complete our sets and keep them down their end.’’

He said if prop Payne Haas is suspended by the NRL Integrity Unit for his off-field incident with Albert Kelly, it would be an opportunity for another Broncos forward to step-up.

Broncos coach Kevin Walters said the instructions to Brisbane’s halves was simple – get the ball to Kotoni.

“I’m really happy for Kotoni because he’s been under a bit of pressure with all that stuff and it’s good for him to show people why we think he’s a special player and tonight he was a key player for us on many occasions,’’ Walters said.

Brisbane Broncos

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