For all the talent in the Wellington Cowboys under 18s side of 2016, there was one player who stood head and shoulders above the rest.
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"When you got stuck you just looked for Kotoni. He could make something out of nothing," Will Lousick, another member of the side, said.
Lousick and Staggs - best mates since childhood - starred that season but when the Cowboys reached the grand final against Nyngan it quickly became all about the Brisbane-bound talent.
"We obviously had a really good team, but sometimes in that grand final Kotoni just took over," Lousick said.
"I think we only lost once or twice, but when we got to the grand final, they say big time players make big time moves and he did that every time he touched the ball. Something would happen either around him or for himself."
Staggs scored two tries, set up two others and booted five of his six conversion attempts to lead the Cowboys to a 42-18 win and end the club's 20-year wait for an under 18s title.
It was the perfect ending to Staggs' time at home as he soon made the move to the Broncos, where has developed into one of the NRL's most dangerous outside backs.
His rise to the top will be completed on Saturday night when the 24-year-old makes his debut for his country against Samoa in the Pacific Championship.
For those in Wellington like Lousick - who lived with Staggs for roughly five years while growing up - it's a moment to treasure.
"It's very exciting for me," Lousick said.
"Growing up with Tone, playing juniors together and then seeing his childhood dream of debuting in the NRL and then obviously to make the Australian side is a massive achievement.
"I'm very proud of him."
The entire community of Wellington is proud of Staggs and he's long been a shining beacon for them.
A rugby league-mad community, the chance to cheer on one of their own is something everyone in the town holds close.
On grand final day in 2016 there were hordes of Cowboys fans in attendance, many with 'Staggs' printed on the back of their shirts.
So many young kids would crumple under that kind of pressure and expectation but the rising star thrived.
It wasn't the first time he'd delivered after been thrown into a challenging situation.
Plenty was sent Staggs' way during that 2016 but he stepped up each time.
Just a few months prior to his 2016 grand final heroics, 17-year-old Staggs had been named on the wing for the Western Rams' open-age men's side.
He was the first player that age to earn Western selection since Orange's Jaime Kelso and Forbes' Russell Hill took on France back in 1989.
While his quality around Wellington and Group 11 was well-known at the time, that was the moment a wider audience started to make a note of his name as one to watch.
"He made the Group 11 first grade squad and then went on to play Western Rams on the wing at the age of 17," Lousick said.
"That's where I think everyone was like 'wow, this kid has got a lot of potential and the ability to go to the top level' and that's where he is."
Determination is a word people use regularly when discussing Staggs while growing up in the country.
The Broncos were so impressed with his talents they beat off the attention of a number of Sydney clubs to sign him at just aged 15.
That further stoked the flames within the powerhouse outside back who always had a footy in his hand, would put his hand up for any team, and stuck around after training to further hone his skills.
There's been injuries and off-field incidents during his time in Brisbane but that determination has remained and helped get Staggs back to his best this season as the Broncos made the NRL grand final.
"It's no fluke. He's worked to get where he is," Lousick said.
Having previously represented Tonga, this weekend will mark the first time Staggs has played for Australia and Lousick and some of his family and friends will be there at Townsville.
The path from Wellington to Brisbane and Sydney to attend Broncos' matches and Origin fixtures has been well-trodden in recent years and there was no way his best mates would miss him running out in an Australian jersey for the first time.
"We all know what he's capable of and how well he plays and every time he steps on the field he plays with 100 per cent heart and effort in everything he does," Lousick said.
"I still pinch myself every day that I get to call him my brother and he's playing on the big stage.
"He's a star but when he's around me, he's a brother. He's not a big star to me.
"He loves Wello. That's pretty special."
Saturday's match kicks off at 8.10pm.
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