Broncos coach Anthony Seibold says he let Kodi Nikorima leave the club on compassionate grounds as he outlined why he backed 18-year-old halfback Tom Dearden to be the club’s long-term half.
Nikorima spoke this week after joining the Warriors on a three-and-a-half-year deal, saying the Broncos had been up front with him about Dearden being the man earmarked as the club's long-term halfback choice.
Seibold was quizzed at his weekly press conference at Broncos HQ ahead of Friday night’s clash with Manly at Suncorp Stadium about why he rubber-stamped the decision to release Nikorima at such a pivotal point of the season.
"That was more of a family decision. Kodi was given an opportunity over at the Warriors and it was the best thing for him and his family so I granted that release on compassionate grounds," Seibold said.
"With Macca [Andrew McCullough] getting injured this week it would have been nice having Kodi around but we believe that Jake [Turpin] can do the job. It was only a couple of weeks ago that people were banging down the door and saying Kodi’s not a halfback so sometimes you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
"I see our long-term half as being Tom Dearden and I have given him an opportunity. You make decisions and some you get right and some you don’t. You’ve got to live with it."
Seibold said Dearden showed enough in the 38-6 loss to South Sydney to suggest the club had backed a winner.
"He’s not the first 18-year-old half to play the game and he won’t be the last. You saw what he did last week in what was the biggest build-up to a club game this year," Seibold said.
"I took a risk in some ways but I thought he did a hell of a job for a young player on debut. We didn’t have a lot of footy but defensively he was really strong. Some people might see it as a risk but we believe Tom can be the long-term halfback for our club. We are going to back him and I’ve got his back."
Seibold said outside backs Kotoni Staggs and Gehamat Shibasaki deserved their opportunity after he axed James Roberts and Jamayne Isaako.
"After losing six of our first eight games, a couple of changes needed to be made," he said.
"I spoke to both those [dropped] players and we moved Tevita [Pangai] to the bench as well. All three players have been given the feedback to improve their games."
On the subject of Roberts’ axing, Seibold said "it’s pretty simple".
"Jimmy hasn't been at his best and Kotoni has been banging down the door," he said.
There have been several media reports about Roberts not being happy at Brisbane and wanting to leave, a scenario Seibold also addressed.
"That's a question you need to ask James," he said.
"He has another year-and-a-half on his contract here, he hasn't spoken to me about wanting to move, but we are an organisation that has to choose its team on merit each week. This week, James isn't in it, next week he might be.
"Any player who is contracted here who does their job and shows some effort in doing their job, of course you want them here. Any conversations with Jimmy I will keep private. But at his best, Jimmy is a State of Origin quality player and it's my job to help him be at his best."
Broncos skipper Darius Boyd has come under fire for his form at fullback but Seibold said he was the club’s best option in the custodian role.
"Darius is probably an easy target," he said.
"Any fullback in the competition is an easy target because any error that you make is magnified 10-fold because you are there by yourself.
"Darius is doing some really good things in some areas of his game and there are things he wants to work on and improve. The thing about Darius is that he is a great professional and works really hard at training.
"It is my job to point out the areas that he can be better with. We have constant communication. Darius is our captain and the best option at fullback at the moment. I love his attitude."