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The moment Cronulla rookie Nikora won't soon forget

It was one of many moments that reassured rookie Sharks coach John Morris that he had made the right decision selecting Briton Nikora to make his NRL debut against Newcastle on Friday.

In the play before Edrick Lee spilled Mitchell Pearce's pass close to the Cronulla line, Nikora stopped opposite number Lachlan Fitzgibbon dead in his tracks to save a certain try.

The tackle occurred in the ninth minute of a tense game at McDonald Jones Stadium which Newcastle went on to win 14-8.

Nikora played all 80 minutes, making 40 tackles and running 14 times for 123 metres, staking a claim to become a regular starter in a Cronulla pack that has lost Luke Lewis to retirement and will be without injured Wade Graham until later in the season.

The 21-year-old New Zealand-born backrower was a member of Cronulla's Holden Cup teams in 2016 and 2017 after arriving from the Keebra Park nursery on the Gold Coast, then he graduated into the club's Newtown Jets ISP feeder team last year.

Nikora and 20-year-old hooker Blayke Brailey both made their NRL debuts against the Knights.

Sharks backrower Briton Nikora.
Sharks backrower Briton Nikora. ©Shane Myers/NRL Photos

Morris, who had coached them in those under 20 teams, could not have been happier for them.

"He's a good kid, Brit, a real good kid, and it's a really good story," Morris said.

"He came to us as an open triallist a few years ago and had a couple of years with me in the Holden Cup, so it's a really special moment for me to bring someone through, as we did with Blayke Brailey, and give them their debuts.

"I thought Brit wasn't out of place at all, actually, and given some more games playing outside Shaun Johnson, he's only going to get better for it.

"He battled through, and he saved a try in the first half on Lachlan Fitzgibbon with a really good one-on-one tackle, so he came up with some big plays."

Match Highlights: Knights v Sharks

 

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