NRL 2023: Former Blues center Cothony Staggs rips sharks apart, Nicho Hines, State of Origin

After a disappointing performance by Tom Trbojevic at right center for New South Wales and Kevin Walters’ public praise of Cothony Staggs, the Broncos right center scored in the Brisbane Broncos’ 20-12 victory over the Cronulla Sharks at PointsBet on Saturday night.

Staggs took the first hit of the game, ran with solid athleticism and scored a goal that was a clear statement for the Blues’ selectors.

His chip hit near the line was Brisbane’s third try, while his 171 meters included a line break and eight tackle breaks.

Broncos manager Walters said it was Staggs’ “best game in a while”, while Brisbane captain Adam Reynolds called the center “outstanding”.

“Kev challenged him for a week and also challenged me to get him a few more balls,” Reynolds said. “We know what a dangerous player he is when he has space.

“When we went down his path, we got a bit of momentum and a little bit of joy by breaking a few meters in the middle.”

The origin of men commit

State of Origin’s three-day four-player turnaround didn’t deter the Broncos, who are now out of competition with 20 points, even though the high-flying Penrith Panthers hosted the St George Illawarra Dragons on Sunday.

Payne Haas, Patrick Carrigan and Thomas Flegler played strong, while Reece Walsh competed in several competitions.

With Newcastle next week at Suncorp – and three goodbyes in their future – Walters said he was “very pleased” with his team’s efforts in front of 12,318 fans.

“It’s a tough place to win and our guys were really good today,” Walters said. “It was a really strong performance across the board.”

Hines Time

Nico Hines was dangerous in the first half, holding the ball with both hands and hitting on Cronulla’s first try as he flew down the field, drew defenders and gave a clean short ball to Siosif Talakai who hit the hole like a train and scored close to the posts .

Hines later freed Will Kennedy in a long run right before swinging his back to Matt Moylan and igniting the Sharks on the right.

“It’s hard to wash off after that [the State of Origin loss] and his answer, he never stopped trying, he was everywhere,” Fitzgibbon said. “He had a lot of decisions on his shoulders and he certainly didn’t let us down with his efforts.”

Despite Hines failing to throw his outside back across the strip in the second half, the argument for “de-pantherizing” the Blues’ backline could be resolved by giving Hines the mandate to be himself and attack both sides of the ruck.

Originally published as ‘Outstanding’: Ex-Blues center Cothony Staggs rips Sharks apart