People in the western region are all too aware of the potential Kotoni Staggs and Jesse Ramien possess and it’s clear Brad Fittler is as well.
The pair, Wellington junior Staggs and Coonamble product Ramien, have both been named in Fittler’s 23-man Emerging Blues squad.
The squad will be put through it’s paces at the soon to be opened Centre of Excellence next month.
After departing Wellington in a blaze of glory after the 2016 season, Staggs has gone from strength to strength in Brisbane and made his NRL debut for the Broncos in round 11 of this year. It was one to remember as he scored in a win over the Sydney Roosters.
The versatile Staggs figured in the centres on another eight occasions for Wayne Bennett and is seemingly bound to take on a bigger role again in 2019.
The stage is also set for Ramien to take the next step in 2019.
The Coonamble junior left the west to link with Cronulla’s youth program and the one-time Australian Schoolboys representative went on to score 12 tries in 22 NRL appearances for the Sharks after debuting last year.
He has made the switch to Newcastle in the off-season and is set to be a major player in a revamped squad targeting a return to finals football.
As well as the prospect of finals, the powerhouse pair of centres can also now work towards wearing the sky blue of their state.
“The majority of players named are young, have stood out in their age groups and representative teams and had a big influence, and any time they make these types of squads is important,” Fittler said after the squad was announced on Tuesday.
Kotoni Staggs had some big boots to fill on Sunday afternoon filling in for James Roberts who was away on Origin duty, but he showed what a quality talent he was setting up the Broncos first try and showing great strength to score his own. #BronxNationpic.twitter.com/I81GckQwfM— BroncosHQ.com (@BroncosHQ) July 10, 2018
“We’re giving time to meet these players, we'll have time to have a training session and it’s very important to get to know them for the future plans of NSW."
Fittler’s squad includes rising stars on the cusp of NSW selection for State of Origin and others who have been identified as potential players for the future. Last year’s squad saw Nathan Cleary, Angus Crichton and Latrell Mitchell graduate to play for the Blues in 2018.
The squad also includes Rugby League Players Association Rookie of the Year Victor Radley (Sydney Roosters), Dally M Halfback of The Year Luke Brooks (Wests Tigers), and boom rookie prop Payne Haas (Brisbane Broncos).
- NSW EMERGING BLUES: Payne Haas (Brisbane Broncos), Matt Lodge (Brisbane Broncos), Kotoni Staggs (Brisbane Broncos), Jayden Brailey (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), Kyle Flanagan (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), Curtis Scott (Melbourne Storm), Jesse Ramien (Newcastle Knights), Daniel Saifiti (Newcastle Knights), Mitchell Moses (Parramatta Eels), Waqa Blake (Penrith Panthers)Shawn Blore (Penrith Panthers), Jack Hetherington (Penrith Panthers), Dylan Edwards (Penrith Panthers), Moses Leota (Penrith Panthers), Campbell Graham (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Robert Jennings (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Euan Aitken (St George Illawarra Dragons), Blake Lawrie (St George Illawarra Dragons), Zac Lomax (St George Illawarra Dragons), Cameron McInnes (St George Illawarra Dragons), Reece Robson (St George Illawarra Dragons), Victor Radley (Sydney Roosters), Luke Brooks (Wests Tigers).