It was marked as the battle of the round, with potential NSW Origin selection on the line on Thursday night.

And it would be Kotoni Staggs that came out on top against Siosifa Talakai, with the Broncos scoring a 16-7 upset win over Cronulla at Suncorp Stadium.

Staggs was immense for the hosts, scoring a crucial try before half-time and breaking six tackles, as well as handling the in-form Talakai in defence.

The 23-year-old is now right in the frame to make his Origin debut in June, with the likely-vacant left centre position a huge talking point in rugby league circles since the injury to Latrell Mitchell.

And according to his Broncos captain Adam Reynolds, Staggs is more than ready for the challenges that Origin football can present as the strike centre continues to work on the finer details of his game.

“Just his X-factor and the confidence he is playing with, and the little things that not everyone realises,” Reynolds said.

“Origin is built on those moments and he is certainly producing them week-in and week-out. I thought he was fantastic tonight, he was in everything. He is great on both sides, in defence and attack.

“It’s probably the little things that you don’t notice from Kotoni tonight. The kick-chase, the defensive reads – all those little things that probably go unnoticed.

“As a player and person out there beside him, you definitely feel his presence and I thought he was excellent tonight.

“He obviously didn’t do the highlights and the big flashy plays that everyone looks for, but the little things that make great players, he was in amongst it tonight.”

Staggs is one of the most explosive players in the competition, and when he’s in the mood to show up an opposition centre such as Talakai, he takes the contest personally and strives to come out on top. 

Blues coach Brad Fittler was full of praise for Staggs after getting the better of Talakai, potentially hinting that his possible debut may become a reality.

“I thought it was fantastic,” he said on Channel 9. 

“Kotoni, going out with a defensive mindset, but then being able to score that try at half time, tells you a lot about what he’s capable of.

“Focus on defence but then still has the power to stand up Talakai and beat the winger to the corner…that was an incredible effort.”

But the Blues bolter isn’t the only centre who is turning heads in Brisbane, with English-born Herbie Farnworth turning in another stellar performance against Cronulla.

With the 22-year-old off-contract at the end of the year and rival NRL clubs sniffing around, Broncos coach Kevin Walters is hoping the club can retain him.

“That’s normal that they would be (looking at signing him),” Walters said.

“Herbie has been great for us. He looks good in Broncos colours and we intend to keep him in those colours.

“We’ve got two good strike centres on the left and right-side. I feel that Kotoni and Cobbo are forming a really good relationship on that right-side, both in attack and defence – it’s a go-to for us.

“Herbie loves carrying the ball, he’s a big strong fella, and his defence has been the thing for me that has improved a lot this year.

“We’re good in that space.”

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