Nikorima set for fullback switch

Nikorima set for fullback switch

Brisbane utility Kodi Nikorima has been promoted to the starting side just days after re-signing with the club as Wayne Bennett looks to add experience to his Broncos line-up. 

‌Nikorima will start at fullback against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on Thursday night, with last week's debutant Jamayne Isaako dropping out of the 17. 

Touted as the Broncos' long-term halfback once Ben Hunt departs at season's end, Nikorima will be in unfamiliar territory at the back as he starts in the position for the first time in his NRL career.

The 23-year-old has played as a utility off Brisbane's bench for majority of his 46 games in the NRL, covering at fullback on only a sprinkling of occasions for limited minutes. 

Nikorima's only other experience at fullback was in the Holden Cup, with the New Zealand international moving between five-eighth and fullback in Brisbane's run to the National Youth Competition grand final in 2014. 

Despite this, Bennett remained confident in his 'Mr Fix-It' and insisted Isaako had done nothing wrong in his debut at the back against the Newcastle Knights.

"Kodi's played some NRL at fullback so he's very capable," Bennett said.  

"He can't bring any height. Outside of that we just want a bit of experience. 

"Jamayne did a really good job. I said it after the game and I told him that as well. It's a different game with different circumstances [this week]."

There is no doubt that Isaako will get another opportunity in first grade at some point, but for now Bennett appears to be rewarding Nikorima for committing to the club until the end of the 2020 season. 

One of many Broncos to re-sign this season, Nikorima's signature is one of the last needed to complete Brisbane's retention drive, according to Bennett. 

"We've got all our players tied up now. We probably have James [Roberts] to go but that's about all," he said.

"It's been pretty tough with so many guys coming off contract within the same year. I'm pretty pleased with what we've been able to do. 

"We had to let a couple go because of the salary cap. It wasn't because we wanted them to go. That's the idea of the salary cap."

One player the Broncos have not had to release is prop Joe Ofahengaue who re-signed with the club on Wednesday. 

The 21-year-old has already played 39 games for the club and is a big part of Bennett's plans for the future. 

"All our signings have been important and they've all been conducted with plenty of consideration for the players' long-term futures here," Bennett said.  

"Joe has really come into a bit of form this year. He's playing a lot better than he has in the past here. 

"Obviously he's a young player and we need a good sprinkling of those in the team heading into the future. Joe's part of the present and the future." 

Ofahengaue will come off Brisbane's bench on Thursday night in what is his 10th game for the season. 

He will be looking to continue his strong form after running for over 100 metres in his last three matches.