Grounded Jet opens door for Staggs
BRISBANE young gun Kotoni Staggs will confront the biggest test of his fledgling career after Broncos centre James "The Jet" Roberts was grounded for Thursday night's blockbuster against the Roosters.
The joy of Roberts streaking 90 metres to score against the Dragons last Thursday night was tempered by the agony of a post-try Achilles flare-up that has sidelined Brisbane's fastest player for a clash with the premiers.
Roberts' withdrawal opens the door for Staggs, the speedy Aboriginal super-sub who will be asked to mark-up against a more supreme indigenous talent in Roosters ace Latrell Mitchell at the SCG.
Broncos coach Anthony Seibold is happy with his backline contingency for Roberts.
While Roberts hobbled through Tuesday's training run, Staggs moved with such intent he was loudly applauded at one stage by Seibold, who liked the offensive lines the 20-year-old ran.
The Roosters showdown carries special meaning for Staggs.
Last May, the Wellington product made his NRL debut against the Bondi club, scoring a try off the bench in Brisbane's 28-22 victory, and will relish the prospect of facing Mitchell in just his 13th top-grade game.
NSW Origin teammates Mitchell and Roberts waged two mouth-watering battles at club level last year and Broncos skipper Darius Boyd backed Staggs to handle the Roosters examination.
"Staggs gets his opportunity - he is a young kid with a lot of talent and he's very competitive," Boyd said.
"It is disappointing that Jimmy won't be there but it's a good chance for Staggs to see what he can do."
Roberts' Achilles problem is a growing concern. He has battled the ailment for the past 15 months and with the Broncos reluctant to consider surgery, Roberts faces ongoing rehabilitation in the coming months.
There were suggestions Roberts may have been dropped but that was dismissed by Boyd, who can empathise with The Jet's pain after snapping his achilles tendon in December 2014.
"He is definitely not dropped," Boyd said.
"It is the Achilles … he is a bit of a Ferrari old Jimmy. He runs fast and we need him to be at his best but his Achilles is hampering him a little bit so I think he is having a rest this week.
"Hopefully we can get it right for next week.
"Jimmy played Origin last year and is at the prime of his career but we need Jimmy at his best and doing the little things well."
Boyd said the Broncos desperately need Roberts - their No.1 strike player - to be at peak fitness.
"There are a lot of things you can do with calf strength in particular," he said. "I didn't have the pain so much, my Achilles just kind of (snapped).
"Jimmy's hasn't (snapped), which is lucky, but he needs to do a lot of calf work. That is the key, to strengthen other areas because the Achilles is a hard one to work on."