New Zealand Warriors halfback Kodi Nikorima feels confident again now his life is settled in Auckland after a difficult 2019 where his entire world was uprooted in an instant.
Nikorima started last season at the Broncos but two months into the year it became clear he was no longer in coach Anthony Seibold’s plans and was granted an early release to join Stephen Kearney at the Warriors on a three-year deal.
It meant the Kiwi Test halfback had to move countries mid-season and join a club with players he’d never met and execute plays he’d never learnt.
But it wasn’t just on the field where life was difficult.
His Australian fianceé Bree Tobler and now one-year-old son Zavier followed him across the Tasman.
Every athlete knows how important having a settled life away from sport can be for their performance and helping his family adjust to a new city was another factor Nikorima had to conquer.
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“I feel a lot more comfortable now,” Nikorima said.
“I think my partner, she is an Aussie girl, she has spent a lot more time over there now and she is really getting to know Auckland.
“She has a lot of friends now over there and knows all our teammates’ partners, that always helps when she is always busy.
“Obviously being a team in New Zealand we’re away a lot, well every second week, so she has that support now and definitely it makes it a lot easier.
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“I’ve had my first pre-season under my belt so [I’m] feeling comfortable and feeling confident heading into this year.”
Nikorima will never forget that first game at the Warriors. Standing at halfback, calling old Broncos plays to confused Warriors teammates.
It was a steep learning curve and while there were some bright moments in 2019, the year ended badly as the club faded to 13th.
Nikorima feels there is great improvement in not only his game but the club in 2020 now they’d addressed where they went wrong last year.
“I came in midway through last year and I knew a few of the players but not most of them and we were in a position where we were sort of down the bottom and we needed things to click straight away,” he said.
“I said a couple of times where I felt we had a good six-week stint and then fell away towards the end.
“That is something we’ve discussed in the pre-season and you know it’s obviously awesome I’ve had the chance to get to know all the players throughout the squad and [we’re] definitely confident heading into the season.”
The Warriors will finalise their preparations for the NRL season with a trial against Wests Tigers at Rotorua on Sunday.