Long-awaited comeback for Nikorima
Brisbane's Kodi Nikorima is just days away from making his return to rugby league, with the New Zealand international set to take the field for the Broncos in their trial clash against Wynnum Manly this Saturday.
It's been a long road to recovery for Nikorima who has not played since July last year after dislocating his shoulder in Brisbane's loss to Melbourne in Round 17.
Initially it was thought the injury would not keep the young star out for too long, but it was decided surgery would be the best option for Nikorima in the long term.
Now back into contact training and ready to return to the field, Nikorima is eyeing a spot in Wayne Bennett's side come Round 1.
"The body is getting there. I'm still in rehab but I'll get to play my first trial this week against Wynnum," Nikorima said.
"I'm very excited about making a return, but at the same time there are some nerves.
"I've done all the preparation that I can do so I can't wait to get on the field. I'm hoping I'll get over half a game.
"I feel like my body will be right for Round 1 so we will just have to see if Wayne picks me."
Nikorima will start on the bench for the Broncos on Saturday night, but is expected to play in both the halves and at hooker throughout the match.
A stint at hooker looks to be the ultimate test for the 22-year-old's shoulder, with the extra defensive load set to make or break his Round 1 bid.
If all goes well Nikorima will most likely regain the No.17 jersey for Brisbane, with his explosive speed and elusive footwork a huge handful for tired opposition forwards late in the game.
But first he must get through Saturday night, with the talented utility admitting the injury would be in the back of his mind.
"I'd be lying if I said the injury wouldn't be in the back of my mind when I take the field on the weekend," he said.
"But you can't go into a game thinking about injuries too much because that's when injuries do occur.
"It will be there a little bit but not too much. I'll be in the halves for a bit of the match but then some hooker later in the game."
Saturday night's match will kick-off at 7:30pm at BMD Kougari Oval.
It will be the last chance to impress for any of Brisbane's squad members who did not travel to the UK for the World Club Series.