When Kodi Nikorima pulls on his New Zealand Kiwis jersey on Saturday night he will have one thing on his mind – his parents.
Nikorima this week revealed to PlayersVoice [https://www.playersvoice.com.au/kodi-nikorima-story-that-changed-my-life/#6sKzKMvrEiCr1QlA.97] the sacrifice his parents had made to further his rugby league career.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that Nikorima himself found out just how much his parents, and in particular his father, had left behind in New Zealand to try and give he and his younger brother Jayden the best possible chance of making it in the NRL.
Born in Palmerston North, 140km north of Wellington on New Zealand's north island, Nikorima soon relocated to Burnham Military Camp.
The town, located just south-west of Christchurch, was army heartland – a perfect fit for the Nikorimas and their father who was a sergeant at the time.
This is the area where Nikorima began to play rugby league, showing talent at a young age before going on with it when he arrived in Brisbane as a 10-year-old.
Nikorima had always believed this move to Brisbane was because of his parents' search for a better life, but that all changed two weeks ago when he was told the truth by his father's best friend, Duane Peterson.
"[When I was 10] Dad was apparently offered a promotion, in terms of rank and pay, as well as a transfer to Waiouru Military Camp on the North Island. He loved the army life and, to that point, it had been his intention to devote his entire career to it," Nikorima recalled.
"I was starting to show a bit of promise as a rugby league player and Dad knew the opportunities and pathways for a young bloke coming through the ranks were much better in Brisbane than they were in New Zealand. There were only about five or six teams in my age group around Christchurch. Brisbane had lots more.
"So Mum and Dad had a talk about it and, instead of taking the promotion, they took a punt on Jayden and me and moved to Brisbane. Dad loved the army, but he loved us much more. He found work in security at the airport and Mum worked with the police. It was a huge sacrifice and they did it for us, for our footy."
Nikorima, who has always loved New Zealand, now treasures the chance to wear his country's jersey. For him a World Cup victory would be the ultimate way to honour his parents' sacrifice.
He will start on the bench for New Zealand against Fiji on Saturday, but to even be in the starting 17 is a dream come true for the proud Kiwi.
"Even though I’ve lived in Australia for most of my life, I’ve always felt Kiwi. I’m a die-hard New Zealand fan across all sports," Nikorima wrote.
"Unlike most Kiwis who grew up wanting to be an All Black, I dreamt of pulling on the black-and-white jersey in rugby league."
If New Zealand are successful in their quest to defeat Fiji they will then face Australia in a semi-final at Suncorp Stadium on Friday November 24.