Broncos expect Nikorima to be targeted
Brisbane Broncos second-row forward Alex Glenn expects the Sydney Roosters to target Kodi Nikorima on Friday night when the versatile 23-year-old starts at fullback for just the second time in his NRL career.
Captain and usual fullback Darius Boyd will miss Friday nights' qualifying final with a hamstring injury, forcing Broncos coach Wayne Bennett to move Nikorima to the back and play Benji Marshall in the halves.
It is a similar move to the one Bennett made in Round 20 when Boyd missed Brisbane's match against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, with Nikorima starting in the No.1 jersey that night and producing arguably his best performance of the season in the 30-point victory.
Nikorima ran for almost 150 metres and scored a try in the huge win, looking dangerous every time he got his hands on the ball.
As good as his performance was, it was helped by the poor kicking of the Bulldogs who failed to test the 174cm New Zealand international under the high ball.
Nikorima had it all his own way, fielding just three kicks in general play, none of which were bombs.
It will be a lot harder this time around, but Glenn has backed his teammate to rise to the challenge.
"I'd be silly if I said they won't [target him]. He played fullback last weekend for us in the second half and apart from that he hasn't really been back there that much," Glenn said.
"We have confidence that he will get the job done. 'Darbs' (Boyd) has been in his ear and given him pointers. At the end of the day, I know he'll handle the job."
It is just another job for Nikorima who has filled almost every position in Brisbane's backline over his 52-game NRL career.
The man he is replacing was full of admiration when asked of Nikorima's versatility, saying with a week of training behind him Nikorima will look like a full-time fullback.
"I haven't given him a whole lot of advice. Kodi is a pretty gifted player that can play a number of positions," Boyd said.
"I said to someone this morning that having the week behind him knowing he's going to play there would do his confidence a world of good.
"He had a great game at fullback during the Bulldogs game and that was mainly due to him having the whole week there to prepare.
"The more he touches the ball and the more he's talking, the better he is."
Perhaps the only issue facing Nikorima is something he cannot change – his height.
At 174cm he is the shortest player in Brisbane's side, but Boyd believes that will not be an issue due to the nature of the fullback position in the modern game.
"There's not a lot of fullback one-on-one contesting these days. It's more kicking to the wingers," he said.
"If that does happen Kodi will be prepared. He's a skilful guy that can catch bombs. All he has to do is compete for the ball. That's all you can ask."