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Family focus: Nikorima non-commital on Warriors future, unlikely for Kiwis

Kodi Nikorima has all but ruled himself out of the Kiwis side for the end-of-season World Cup and stopped short of guaranteeing his long-term future with the Warriors as his partner prepares to return to Brisbane for the birth of their second child.

Nikorima, who recently took up an option to extend his career with the Warriors beyond this year, insisted he remained committed to the club but his first priority was to his family when asked about suggestions he would prefer to stay in Australia rather than return to New Zealand next season.

While he is yet to discuss the World Cup with New Zealand coach Michael Maguire, Nikorima said he was planning to declare himself unavailable for the tournament in the UK to spend time with his partner, Bree Tobler, and their children at the end of the season.

"I have got a young one on the way and I haven’t spoken to Madge about it yet but obviously I want to spend as much time as I can with my family," Nikorima said.

"At the moment my partner has done it tough so far, being pregnant and pretty much raising our son by herself so I think for me it will just be stepping aside.

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"They [the Kiwis] have some quality players there so I will be looking at taking some time off at the end of the year and taking myself out of being in contention."

The 27-year-old playmaker was born in Palmerston North but grew up in Brisbane and played 88 matches for the Broncos before joining the Warriors two years ago.

He took up an option earlier this year for a further season with the Warriors but was non-committal when asked about his long-term future leading into Saturday’s match against Newcastle.

"I’ll always put my family first and that’s my partner and little one, and we have got another one on the way, which is due in a couple of weeks time, so whenever I do make decisions they will be at the forefront of that," Nikorima said.

"I haven’t thought too much about the future. All I can control is playing footy and that is what I am doing right now – playing for the Warriors. I will leave all that stuff up to manager but right now my main focus is playing for the Warriors.

"I haven’t spoken to my manager but if you look around the league obviously contracts don’t mean too much these days with all this player movement and stuff.

"I am not even worried about next year because I know that playing good footy is going to take care of itself so in terms of these rumours and stuff, I am not even thinking about it."

Tobler, who Nikorima proposed to in Queenstown during a break between Tests at the end of the 2019 season, recently joined him on the Central Coast but will return to Brisbane before the birth of their second child.

The Warriors are interested in England playmaker Gareth Widdop, who is currently playing for Warrington but wants to move closer to his family after they returned to Wollongong late last year. 

Meanwhile, Nikorima said Kiwis team-mate Dallin Watene-Zelezniak would bring experience and versatility to the Warriors if he makes a mid-season move from the Bulldogs, as expected.

A deal between the two clubs is likely to be finalised within coming days and Watene-Zelezniak could line up on the wing for the Warriors in their next match against St George Illawarra on July 2.

“I have played with him through the Kiwis and he is a quality player, he can play anywhere in the backline so no doubt he gives us that versatility," Nikorima said.

“He has played for his country and brings that added experience so if he does sign, or if he has signed, that is a bonus for us as a club.”

 

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