NRL Rd 15 - Broncos v Dragons
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 21: Kotoni Staggs of the Broncos looks on during the round 15 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Suncorp Stadium on August 21, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

The decision of who will replace Latrell Mitchell for State of Origin Game 1 is drawing closer for Brad Fittler, and one of the front runners Kotoni Staggs has received high level backing from his potential centre partner.

While Mitchell is out of the side for the opening game on Wednesday, June 8 as he returns from a hamstring injury - and his availability for Game 2 in Perth is currently unknown - last year's centre partner Tom Trbojevic will be there.

Trbojevic and Mitchell ran riot on Queensland during the opening two games of last year's series when the Blues ran up a record combined scoreless to take a two-nil lead in the series.

Kotoni Staggs is among the favourites to replace Mitchell, alongside Penrith Panthers star Stephen Crichton, while coach Brad Fittler has also mentioned Bradman Best and Matt Burton are in the mix.

Trbojevic, however, told The Daily Telegraph that Staggs should be the man.

He has been exceptional,” Trbojevic said.

“He is so hard to tackle and so good one-on-one. We have got a job to do.

“There are some good candidates (to replace Mitchell) and he could definitely do it. He is close to, if not at the top of the list. I’m sure ‘Freddy’ (Blues coach Brad Fittler) has got some ideas.

“Kotoni has got to be close.”


Staggs has scored three tries in his nine games so far this year, while he also averaging five tackle breaks per game, which is encouraging given a slow start to the season as he returned from injury last year.

His involvement has been a large part of the form turnaround for the Brisbane Broncos, who last week got the better of the South Sydney Rabbitohs in a surprise upset.