Nikorima happy biding time on bench

Broncos whiz kid Kodi Nikorima says he's content to bide his time playing in a utility role off the bench after extending his contract at Red Hill for another year until the end of the 2016 season.

With Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett having already earmarked Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford as his long-term halves combination, 21-year-old Nikorima looks set to warm the pine for the foreseeable future.

However Brisbane's former NYC halfback, who played a number of positions during his under-20s days, will continue living his dream by coming off the bench after debuting in Round 2 this year against the Sharks.

"I love being in this squad – just look at the names around me – I think it's every kid's dream I believe so I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and hopefully be here week in, week out," Nikorima said.

"I'm just happy being in this side in the 17 so I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and maybe in the future I'll get a shot at the halves, at fullback or maybe even hooker.

"It doesn’t bother me I just want to be in the 17."

A skilful back with blistering acceleration and fast footwork to match, Nikorima was born in Palmerston North on New Zealand's north island – the same birthplace as Test and Origin prop James Tamou – and was rewarded for his early-season form by Broncos assistant and Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney by being named 18th man leading into the Anzac Test match against Australia earlier this month.

Standing at 174 centimetres and tipping the scales at 85 kilograms, Nikorima is by no means a pushover and has held his own in defence during his eight games so far this season – averaging 10 tackles with only one miss and 36 running metres per game.

"I've been playing a bit of hooker this year and a [under-20s] fullback at the back end of last year so I've had to change things like defence," he said.

"Defence in the NRL is big key and I'm happy with that so far."

 

The former junior Kiwi has made 15 dummy-half runs and six tackle busts so far in 2015 and also facilitated Milford's second try during Brisbane's 28-16 win over the Eels in Round 8 with an audacious flick pass.

He also made a telling contribution during Brisbane's last-start win over the Panthers, making a line break inside the final two minutes to leave Penrith's defence backpedalling which eventually led to Corey Oates's match-winning try.

Averaging 22 minutes per game, Nikorima demonstrated his versatility by filling in at fullback for skipper Justin Hodges during the second half of Brisbane's 12-10 loss against the Dragons in Round 7.

A Brisbane resident and Aspley Devils junior since moving from New Zealand at age 12, Kodi has been involved in the Broncos' under-20s set up since 2012 and played alongside 18-year-old brother Jayden at NYC level during Brisbane's 2014 campaign where they lost against the Warriors on Grand Final day.

Given his history and family ties to the club, Kodi's decision to stay with Brisbane for another year was as easy as A-B-C for the Bachelor of Education student.

"I have been with the Broncos since I was 12 years old and wasn't really looking elsewhere and the opportunity came up so I decided to stay another year," he said.

"Personally for me I didn’t have any interest elsewhere. I wanted to stay in Brisbane because my family is based here so it was an easy decision.

"Hopefully [Jayden] stays with me, if not, I'll support him either way.

"Obviously being under Wayne helped because he's the best coach in the game – I'm still young so I can keep learning off him."

Nikorima's next bench assignment will involve taking on an improved Cowboys side seeking revenge for their 44-22 flogging by the Broncos earlier in the season.

North Queensland have won six-straight games since losing to Brisbane in Round 3.

"It's always a challenge coming up against the Cowboys in the local derby but we can't judge them on their performance in Round 3 because they're a completely different team now and flying high so we've got to come prepared," he said.

"This will be my first time playing in Townsville for the derby so I can't wait, I'm excited."

Video courtesy of broncos.com.au