The NRL’s ambitious push to emerge from the COVID-19 shutdown has paid off after attracting its biggest television audience for a regular-season game in more than six years.
Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold says Tom Dearden is in line to replace injured No.7 Brodie Croft despite Kotoni Staggs impressing as a makeshift halfback.
Three-try hero Kotoni Staggs may have impressed as a makeshift half but Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold says teenager Tom Dearden is primed to take over the No.7 jersey if Brodie Croft succumbs to a shoulder injury.
Seibold was full of praise for Staggs after he inspired the Broncos’ 22-18 NRL second-round win over South Sydney on Friday night, saying the Tongan international was primed for a State of Origin debut for NSW this year.
Staggs at first impressed in his starting centre role before helping to fill the void left at No.7 by Croft who broke down after 14 minutes at Suncorp Stadium.
Yet Seibold was not tempted to keep Staggs in the halves for next week’s clash against the Gold Coast, saying 19-year-old Dearden would be called up if Croft failed to recover.
“It is an AC joint injury so hopefully it settles down in the next few days,” he said.
“(But) we have got Tom Dearden there who we have got a lot of confidence in.
“We developed Tom Dearden last year. I gave him five games of NRL as an 18-year-old kid so he is fresh and ready to go.”
Not that Seibold had any complaints with Staggs’ service in the halves on Friday night after repeating his heroics as a surprise starting No.7 in Tonga’s historic Test win over Australia last November.
“That (Test) actually gave me the thought to put him in the halves (against South Sydney), he did a pretty fair job (against Australia),” Seibold said.
Asked if Staggs could now take the next step and make his Origin debut for NSW if the series remained on track this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, Seibold said: “Kotoni can do whatever he wants in the game.
“Like a lot of the young guys there if he continues to work and is diligent with his preparation …then their potential is unlimited.”
Meanwhile, Seibold said Herbie Farnworth and Xavier Coates were in line to replace Corey Oates on the wing against the Titans after the Queensland winger suffered a rib injury in the dying minutes against the Rabbitohs.