Injury rules Hunt out for Broncos
Brisbane Broncos halfback Ben Hunt will miss between two and three weeks with a hamstring strain after leaving the field early in the second half of his side's 32-8 win over the Sydney Roosters on Thursday night.
Hunt suffered the injury in the 49th minute, limping off the field after crashing over for a controversially disallowed try.
If the pain of having a four-pointer denied wasn't enough, Hunt soon realised something wasn't right with his body.
But in a bizarre turn of events, Hunt didn't know he had even strained the muscle, thinking rather that it was just a bad cramp.
Centre James Roberts quickly went to stretch out Hunt's supposed cramp, but Hunt soon recognised that it was a lot worse than first thought, with the star half being helped off the field by trainer Allan Langer moments later after making a gutsy tackle.
Now faced with the prospect of a few weeks on the sideline, Hunt has nominated his replacement.
"I'd back Kodi Nikorima 100 per cent. He's played there before," Hunt said.
"He's had a lot of time there in the lower grades and he played there in the World Club Challenge last year so I think he would be the man for the job."
With Hunt leaving for the St George Illawarra Dragons at the end of this season, Nikorima's promotion to starting halfback could be a look into the future.
The New Zealand international is a half at heart, representing his country in the five-eighth position, as well as at halfback.
Although not on the same stage, Nikorima has also played in the halves for the Norths Devils in the Intrust Super Cup earlier this year.
He has helped guide the Devils to the top of the ladder after putting in a number of outstanding performances.
But his appearances for Norths haven't just helped his Intrust Super Cup side, they have also aided in his own recovery from a major shoulder injury.
The 23-year-old has used his game time to aid his match fitness and it did him a world of good for his return against the Roosters on Thursday.
It was a personal milestone for Nikorima to return to the NRL, with his appearance off the bench for the Broncos his first match in the top grade since suffering the injury in Round 17 last year.
It was good timing for Broncos coach Wayne Bennett, with Nikorima subbing into halfback to cover for Hunt in the last 30 minutes of the match.
Nikorima was solid in the position, directing his side around the park and having touches of brilliance.
Speaking to media after the match, Nikorima said he would be more than happy to start at halfback when Brisbane face the Gold Coast Titans in Round 7.
"I'll put my hand up. If the opportunity comes my way, then I have to make the most of it," Nikorima said.
"Playing Intrust Super Cup has really helped me. If I get to stay in the position then I'll work my hardest to be the best that I can be."
But Bennett is yet to decide if Nikorima will fill Hunt's void, with Sam Scarlett and Todd Murphy both options if needed.
Neither Scarlett or Murphy have played NRL, but the two members of Brisbane's squad will get their chance to impress this Sunday when Scarlett's Souths Logan Magpies take on Murphy's Norths Devils in the Intrust Super Cup.
It now looms as an important clash for the two halves, and Bennett said he would be keeping a close eye on this weekend's match-up.
"We have a good system at the Broncos where everyone knows what their jobs are," Bennett said.
"Anyone can come into the team pretty easily these days because of the way we train and that's why Kodi slotted in so well at halfback on Thursday night.
"That same sentiment goes for Scarlett and Murphy as well.
"There is a big game on Sunday when Norths play Souths. Both those boys will be playing in that so we have some good options there."