NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler may have just revealed who is leading the State of Origin selection battle after Kotoni Staggs and Siosifa Talakai went head-to-head on Thursday night.
With Latrell Mitchell most likely to miss the Origin opener with injury, Fittler was keeping a close eye on the duel between the two centres as the Broncos upset the Sharks 16-7.
Staggs has patiently been eyeing a spot within the New South Wales set up for quite some time now with Talakai emerging as a genuine bolter after a dominant start to the season.
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It was the Broncos star, however, who emerged the clear winner of the duel, scoring a try and pressuring Talakai repeatedly to send a clear message to Fittler.
“I thought it was fantastic,” Fittler told Channel Nine of the centre battle.
“It tells me that the right side of the Broncos got the victory. A little bit of experience from Adam Reynolds helped.
“Kotoni, going out with a defensive mindset, but then being able to score that try at half time, tells you a lot about what he’s capable of.
“Focus on defence but then still has the power to stand up Talakai and beat the winger to the corner… that was an incredible effort.”
Fox League panel said it was clear right from the outset that Staggs was up for the fight.
“Talakai’s had nine runs tonight and I think Staggs has got him six or seven times,” Greg Alexander said.
“He’s taken the battle personally… Staggs has been very good defensively all night on the man that has been all the chat this week in the NRL.”