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Murray Wenzel

Staggs' Talakai test as pair stake claims

Brisbane centre Kotoni Staggs hopes to seal an Origin spot with a strong game against Cronulla. (AAP)

In a crowded field of contenders to replace Latrell Mitchell in the centres for the NSW Blues, Kotoni Staggs knows he's been given the perfect platform to make his case.

A defensive assignment against fellow Blues bolter and Cronulla star Siosifa Talakai on Thursday could make or break the Bronco's chances.

Talakai was at his storming best with two tries and as many assists inside the first 30 minutes of his side's defeat of Manly last week.

"I've been watching; he's outstanding," Staggs said of his direct opponent.

"But I know what I've got to do and that's not to go high (in tackles), that's for sure.

"He's a big body and he just uses it, whatever's in front of him he'll take, if the opportunity is there to run over someone he'll do it, he just backs himself."

Stopping him will be key as Brisbane hope to build on their fast-finishing win over Canterbury.

It also presents a chance for Staggs to earn a call-up he was denied when a knee injury in the final round of the 2020 season curtailed his hopes of a Blues debut in the end-of-season Origin series.

"That jersey is on my mind; I've always wanted to play Origin for the Blues," he said.

"I was pretty close before I did my knee; I could have been there.

"But I've taken a step back now, learnt a lot about myself after the injury and I'm probably in a better head space than I was."

Staggs said his early season form concerns have been wiped thanks to his growing partnership with winger Selwyn Cobbo and halfback Adam Reynolds.

That's helped them improve defensively, while in attack Staggs has received the ball more often in open space and on the front foot.

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