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Nikorima should play halfback: Benji

Nikorima should play halfback: Benji
Benji Marshall is happy to move back to the bench this week. Credit: Jason O'Brien. Copyright: NRL Photos.

Broncos utility Benji Marshall says teammate Kodi Nikorima should be his side's first-choice halfback for Brisbane's preliminary final against the Melbourne Storm on Friday night. 

Marshall himself started in the No.7 jersey in last week's semi-final win over the Penrith Panthers, with Nikorima playing fullback in the absence of captain Darius Boyd. 

But it will be a different line-up this week with Boyd expected to make his return from the hamstring injury that has sidelined him for the past two matches.

It means coach Wayne Bennett has a selection dilemma on his hands when he decides who should start at halfback and who should move to the bench. 

It is a decision that could make or break Brisbane's premiership charge, with Bennett having to choose between Marshall's long-term experience or Nikorima's X-factor. 

But Marshall believes the choice is straightforward, saying that he has not been consistent enough to warrant selection in the Broncos' starting 13. 

"I'm pretty sure if Darius comes back I'll be on the bench," Marshall said.

"I've been a little bit inconsistent over the last couple of weeks and that's probably off the back of playing two 80-minute games over the last two months. It's been testing but I've really enjoyed it as well. 

"Kodi deserves his opportunity at halfback. I've been playing that role off the bench for most of the season so that's probably how I'd see it. 

"I think Kodi deserves [to start]. Obviously I'd love that chance but I think I've played a pretty good role as a utility off the bench."

Marshall's point about consistency is valid, with the veteran having only started two games at halfback all year. 

Nikorima on the other hand has been Brisbane's halfback 12 times in 2017, winning 11 of those contests as he continues to develop in the position.

With Marshall leaving for the Wests Tigers at the end of the year and Nikorima set to be the Broncos' long-term No.7, it could be argued that starting Nikorima on Friday night would be the right thing to do for his development. 

That, and the fact Marshall sees his own form for as inconsistent, would leave many to believe that Nikorima will get the nod. 

If that is the case Marshall's experience off the bench late in the match will be invaluable for Brisbane, even if the 32-year-old can't control the nerves he still experiences after 15 years of first grade.

"I was a little bit nervous on the weekend after not being in that situation for a long time. It was a learning curve for me and I'm excited for this week," he said.

"I think what I've learnt from the last couple of weeks is that you have to start from the start and build your whole game from the start. I think I struggled with that a little bit."

 

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