Anthony Seibold says dynamo centre Kotoni Staggs is "pulling the grass out" at training and putting real heat on James Roberts and Jack Bird for a starting position at the Brisbane Broncos.
While Bird and Roberts are set to line up for Brisbane in round one of the Telstra Premiership against the Melbourne Storm they will be looking over their shoulders as the 20-year-old Staggs continues to develop.
Seibold has identified Staggs as an ideal number 14 on the bench because of his versatility but said his pre-season form, attitude and work ethic had him ready to start if need be.
Staggs lined up with Bird in the centres in the trial against Wynnum-Manly on Saturday night.
"Jimmy and Birdy have to earn their jersey because Kotoni is pulling the grass out here at training," Seibold said.
"People have watched the Indigenous All Stars game last week and Kotoni was really strong in his minutes. He will be putting a lot of pressure on the two centres.
"If he doesn't get in front of them, he will be a really good 14 because he can play multiple positions. Kotoni is doing everything possible to wear a starting jersey which I love about him. I've only known him a short time but he's real competitor."
Last year Staggs was a development list player and NRL rules stipulate that any player on that list cannot start in a Telstra Premiership game if there is a fit and healthy player in the top 30, in a similar position, available.
As a result Staggs played eight of his nine NRL games off the bench but was able to start against the Titans last year when the Broncos were short of players.
This year the Wellington-raised dynamo does not have any of those issues as he is in the top 30.
"I'll definitely be trying to fight my way into a starting spot. I prefer to play one spot, centre, but there are great centres there at the moment," Staggs said.
"[Seibold] has grabbed me aside and talked to me about being that number 14. I think I can bring a lot of energy there.
"That utility spot, I am happy to play there and just be in the 17 every week. Last season it all came very quick for me, getting my debut and being in the team, and I got a lot of confidence out of that."
Seibold said he was looking forward to Bird's first game in 287 days after a 2018 season hampered by a sternum injury. The 2016 premiership winner is in peak condition after surgery and Seibold said the trial appearance was all about "getting some confidence".
"He's had a really good pre-season, he has trained every minute of every session and if you have a good preparation it transfers to performances in the season," Seibold said.
"Jack has left no stone unturned. He has walked in here the lightest he has been for three years. He is playing a position that is foreign to him as a left centre.
"He has predominantly played right centre in the past, but [Saturday night] is about getting the Broncos jersey on, getting some timing back and some confidence. Playing 20 minutes gives him that opportunity and then we will roll him out for a few more minutes against the Titans."
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