Nikorima's value soars with rule change
Ask Craig Wing or Kurt Gidley and they will tell you that it can be both a blessing and a curse but Broncos utility Kodi Nikorima is embracing his versatility ahead of changes to the interchange rule from 2016.
With the number of interchanges per team per game dropping from 10 to eight in the NRL in 2016 the make-up of the bench will be a fascinating aspect of the first six weeks of the season as coaches juggle with the balance of having power or versatility riding the pine.
The reduction is aimed to showcase the smaller players in the game as they take advantage of tiring defensive lines and there may not be another player in the competition poised to benefit more than Nikorima.
The 21-year-old came off the bench in 20 games for Brisbane in his debut season last year and despite playing two Tests at halfback for New Zealand in the off-season is again pushing his case for inclusion in Wayne Bennett's 17 for Round 1 against the Eels.
In the case of both Wing and Gidley their worth as a utility player made it difficult to assert themselves in any one position – particularly at representative level – but Nikorima hopes his ability to play hooker, half or fullback makes him impossible to leave out.
"I'll honestly play wherever. It honestly doesn't bother me," Nikorima told NRL.com.
"I'll play in the centres or I'll play at lock, it honestly doesn't bother me.
"I want to be on the field and to get as much time as I can and if that's 10 minutes then I'll be happy.
"I want to make sure that Wayne knows that I can play those key positions and I'm there if he needs me.
"When I'm in at training I'll put myself at hooker, I'll put myself at half or at fullback. I mix and change a lot because when I'm on the bench if someone does go down they'll be looking at me.
"I want to make sure that they know I can get the job done so you'll see me at training getting around all positions."
In his NRL debut against the Sharks in Round 2 last year Nikorima played 20 minutes but rarely received that much game time throughout the course of the season.
With Ben Hunt rested in Round 26 against the Storm and the injury to halfback Ashley Taylor after less than 30 minutes Nikorima moved into the halves but when Darius Boyd left the field with concussion 12 minutes from the end he had to make a second switch to fullback.
In the pulsating semi-final against the Cowboys in Week One of the Finals Series Nikorima played just nine minutes but with his first touch of the football made a 15-metre bust out of dummy-half on halfway to set up an Anthony Milford try that stretched Brisbane's advantage to 16-6 with 15 minutes left in the game.
His lightning-fast feet enable him to create chances out of nothing and Nikorima admitted that he does feel the pressure to come up with something special when he takes to the field.
"The boys work hard for 60 minutes before I get on so I feel like I want to have that impact," Nikorima said.
"In a way I put it on myself to make sure I do something for the team and the strength of my game is probably my attack so I try and offer as much as I can when I'm out there.
"Learning off Wayne last year, he gives you that confidence. He wants you to try that stuff and do that stuff so I feel like he gives me confidence to do it and then when I get out there the boys around me, I feed off them as well."